Stage Set for Hagan's NFL Debut

Four years ago he came to ASU in great anonymity, and ultimately departed Tempe as one of the best wide receivers in Sun Devil history. In less than 48 hours, with probably the same degree of obscurity as before, Derek Hagan will embark on his professional career playing for the Miami Dolphins. Devils Digest caught up with the former ASU great in between his preparations for this milestone.

"I'm excited, I'm ready to go," said a thrilled Derek Hagan on Tuesday afternoon. "My first game at ASU was against Nebraska right after they lost in the championship game, and now my first game in the NFL is against the Super Bowl champs Pittsburgh Steelers. So, it's a big game for me for many reasons."

The former Arizona State wide receiver was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the third round of the NFL draft and was the 82nd pick overall. Granted, there was some disappointment on his part in regards to where he was selected, but he was elated to land with one the premier teams in the AFC division. From a pure schematic standpoint, the transition from college to the NFL has been relatively uneventful. "With the Dolphins, I run pretty much the same routs I used to run with Arizona State," explained Hagan. "Everything has been coming very natural to me. But I have to say that the Dolphins' offense is a lot more complicated than ASU's. There's a lot more studying that comes with it, and you really have to pay a lot of attention to little things like hot reads."

Hagan had a relative slow start in his first couple pre-season games, but in the last team tune-up he paced his squad with five catches for 64 yards. "I got more and more playing time each game," he recalled, "and in my fourth game I actually started and that's why I had the my best game then. I'm happy that I came out and showed that I know what I was doing."

The Dolphins rookie is backing up starter and eight-year veteran Marty Booker, who along with the other starting wide receiver Chris Chambers, have been serving as mentors to a very appreciative Hagan. "I've learned a lot from them already and I look forward to learning more from them," said Hagan. "They've really been really cool helping me get better. Things have been working out great for me here."

Just a day before training camp was about to start, Hagan was able to sign a four-year contract with the club. Aside from job security, the timing of the contract brought other benefits with it. "It was real important for me to sign that contract before training camp, so I could be here on time," he remarked. "Not missing any camp definitely helped me get better." The humble wide receiver didn't boast about any big purchases following the signing: "I bought a Range Rover. That's not too lavish compared to what the other guys drive."

Removed just less then a year from the Sun Devils, Hagan still holds great affinity to his alma mater. "I'm always checking on ASU and what's going on there," he admitted. "I'm actually gonna be at the game on Saturday (against Nevada). It's probably the only time I'll be able to see them play during the season. I'm always keeping up on them. I had my eye on that NAU game last week and I'm glad they were able to pull that one out."

Derek Hagan truly feels as one that has been fortunate thus far when it comes to his football career and life in general. "There's a lot going on down here in Miami and it's a great place to live," he said. "Going from California to Arizona to Miami – what else can I ask for? I've been lucky to always be in good weather."

"Playing in the NFL used to be a dream of mine and now it's reality," continued Hagan. "I know that I have to come and play hard every opportunity I get. The team is counting on me on getting the job done and that's all I want to do – get it done."

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