His head coach at Asheville High School, Danny Wilkins, served as quarterbacks and running backs coach for the North Carolina team this week.
CUTigers caught up with Wilkins after Shrine Bowl practice at Spartanburg High School to talk about Pagan, the one-time Florida commit who's reopened his recruitment.
"He'd love to be [at the game]. I'd love for him to be here, but it just didn't work out," Wilkins said. "He's a great kid. He's rehabbing that [knee] real hard, right now. He's in to his official visits. I think he's got a great future. The medical folks think he's going to make a full recovery…it was bad, but it wasn't as bad as originally thought."
Pagan tore his MCL and PCL in the last regular season game of the year.
"We ran him on two or three plays in a series. He was breaking off runs and making big plays for us. He broke off another run, about the third time he carried it there in the first quarter," Wilkins said. "One corner got him up high. He was twisting with his foot planted on the ground. Another one came from behind and rolled him up. It's one of those deals that you hate to see happen, but it did.
"He's had a great attitude from the get go. There's no sour grapes with him…he was doing what he needed to do to help the team win the [conference] championship."
Pagan de-committed from Florida after the Gators' former defensive line coach, Dan McCarney, took the head coach job at North Texas.
Florida head coach Urban Meyer resigned from his position shortly after Pagan de-committed.
"He's very interested in Clemson," Wilkins said. "He's been to Alabama a couple of times. I think he's taking an official there. He's never been to LSU, but I think he wants to take an official down there, just to check it out and see what's there. He's been to Georgia on an official—he did that last weekend. He's not sure if he's going to take a fifth official."
A Scout.com four-star defensive end, Pagan is ranked as the No. 14 player for the position in the class of 2011. He didn't start playing the position until his junior season.
"We put his hand on the ground. It hadn't ever been there before, but the rest is history," Wilkins said.
Pagan, who stands 6-foot-4, played his junior season at 240 pounds. He played this past season around 270.
"He was too heavy," Wilkins said.
Since the injury, Pagan's closer to 255, according to Wilkins.
"I think, realistically, he'll probably be able to stay inside and play tackle, if he stays as heavy as he is," Wilkins said. "Although you clock him in the 40 he ran at the combine for the Shrine Bowl last spring, on a cold day, he ran a 4.6 at 270. I think, ideally for him, if he wants to stand on the edge and be an end guy, he's probably going to have to play in that 250, 255, as far as his weight's concerned."
Pagan and Wilkins will still head to San Antonio to be around for the US Army All-American Bowl.
Pagan misses out on Shrine Bowl
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