Hagan, Williams Get First Taste of NFL

Most college players dream of playing professionally, and getting picked in the NFL draft is certainly the first step is turning that wish into reality. The next step in fulfilling that aspiration, is actually donning an official NFL team uniform and stepping onto the field. Former Sun Devil stars Derek Hagan and Jamar Williams have gone through that experience and shared their thoughts on the subject with Devils Digest.

Wide receiver Derek Hagan was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the third round and was the 82nd pick overall. He said that despite being in one of the warmest climates in the nation the last four years, Miami was able to make him swelter like no other. "We had a lot of practices so far," he said. "There were long and hot. Miami is hotter than Tempe with all the humidity. 90% humidity is hot! (laughs). But I'm getting used to it." One aspect of practice that hasn't bothered him much are the drills he was going through. "A lot of the drills were similar to ASU," explained Hagan. "A lot of the routes were the same. Everything is fast paced and you have to know what you're doing so you don't fall behind." Hagan added that his first mini-camp was limited to NFL rookies such as himself.

One fellow first year player, who was receiving probably more attention than the other Dolphin NFL picks, was Marcus Vick. The Virginia Tech quarterback wasn't drafted by Miami, but did enough in mini-camp to land a free agent contract. Hagan was on the receiving end of many of Vick's passes, and was generally impressed by the often embattled signal caller. "He's a pretty good quarterback," stated Hagan. "He throws a nice ball. We were out there together for a few days and we're both just started learning the offense, but he did a good job."

Hagan admitted that being on the Dolphins practice field has indeed made his professional aspiration come to life and become more of a reality that it has ever been before. "My dream was always to play in the NFL, and now I'm finally here," he said. "The minute I got here, I told the coaches that I was gonna compete for some playing time. So I'm gonna work hard and show everybody what I can do. I want to get into the rotation and I look forward to the challenge."

The wide receiver expected his contract to be worked on sometime in July, prior to the team's pre-season camp. These days, he's back in Miami working out in the team's off-season conditioning program. Granted, he's working harder than he ever did. However, he's very grateful for the situation that he's landed into. "I'm definitely happy getting picked by the Dolphins," he stated. "I'm in Miami – what more can you say (smile)."

Jamar Williams (pictured)has been practicing in a weather quite different than Miami. Nevertheless, the linebacker was chosen in the 4th round and 120th overall by the Chicago Bears, was also enjoying his introduction to the NFL. "Mini-camp went real well," he said. "When I practiced with the team, it finally hit me that I made it to the NFL. Everything was much more up-tempo than college, and we had a lot of two-a-days, but overall I think I did well picking up the defense."

NFL coaches often demand young players to rid of, or at least modify, some of their playing habits from college, and Williams did experience that as well. "You just get used to it," he said. "It didn't bother me or anything like that. I still made some plays, got an interception…I really like the defense the team runs. The schemes are simple and players know what they need to do to make plays. That's why I like it so much and that what makes the defense so good."

With a heavy workload, the linebacker admitted that he hasn't seen much of the windy city, but has been impressed with some of his other new surroundings. "I fell in love with the facilities right away, and I really like the players on the team," he remarked. "There are some great veteran players I can learn from. I'm very happy with where I'm at." He added that expected his contract to be worked out sometime in June, and in the meantime he continues to go through with the team in their off-season workouts.

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