Darian Hagan Interview

Many call <b>Darian Hagan</b> the best player to ever suit up for the Colorado Buffaloes. Nowadays, you can call him Coach. That's what the CU wide receivers are doing this spring as Hagan is mentoring the unit as an offensive assistant. Inside, a conversation with Hagan.

Buffalo Sports News: How excited are you to start spring ball?
Darian Hagan:
Really excited. It's been a long dream of mine to be a part of the program as a coach. And I'm finally getting the opportunity to go out and take some things to some guys and they'll actually listen (laughs).

BSN: And if they don't listen, there are consequences, right?
DH: Yeah. Absolutely.

BSN: What is your role going to be during the spring?
DH:
I will be with the receivers. Shawn Watson has the ultimate decisions (at the position), but I will be drilling them and meeting with those guys. When it all comes down to it, Shawn is their coach. But I'll have a lot of individual time with them. He told me that he wants me to be the best drill coach in America.

BSN: What is your background with wide receiver drills?
DH:
I played wide receiver in Canada. I played it with the 49ers. So I'm pretty well versed at it. For these players, every time they get a new coach, they do different things. My thing is to go in and put my beliefs down. Like Coach Watson always says, ‘Give it to them slow.' KISS – Keep it Slow and Simple.

They've just got to know what to do. If they've got an inside route, they've got to know how to get inside vs. jam or bump. If they've got an outside route, they've got to know how to get outside. You fake inside to get outside. They've just got to know the simple things that will allow them to play fast and allow them to use their body and their hands.

BSN: In a general sense, what do the receivers as a group need to get better at?
DH:
Just playing fast. And playing fast comes from playing with confidence. Playing with confidence is knowing what you're doing.

BSN: Who do you expect to really step up this spring at the position?
DH:
I expect three people to really step up this spring. One being Blake Mackey, and then Alvin Barnett and Patrick Williams.

BSN: What is about them that makes you expect big things from them?
DH:
Just watching those guys, the athletes they are, the things they did in high school, and the things you know they can do at this level. You just can't wait for it to blossom.

BSN: Tell me about Alvin Barnett. He's a guy I haven't seen. Is he a speedster, or more of a technician?
DH:
I'd say he's more of a technician. But he's not a slow guy. He's a 4.5 guy. But just watching him on film, he's a guy that does some things that we haven't had in a while.

BSN: When you played under Gary Barnett, the story was that he had to find different ways to keep you interested in practice because things came so easily to you. Do you agree that different kids need different motivation techniques?
DH:
Oh yeah. I believe that firmly. I'm the type of guy, I don't like teaching the same old stuff every day. So I'm going to bring something different every day. I don't want them to just hone in on one thing and expect that every day. Every day we're going to do something different that is going to allow them to become better receivers.

BSN: There's a lot of buzz about you as a recruiter. How much do you or will you enjoy that part of the job?
DH:
I'll love it. Coming from my last job (rep for Transit Marketing Group), all recruiting is is selling. And selling is communicating. I think I can do that pretty well. You're selling the program. You're selling something you believe in. I believe in this program, so it shouldn't be a hard sell.

BSN: How much do you remember about when you were being recruited out of Locke High School?
DH:
I remember it all. I remember being flattered that Tom Osborne and Bill McCartney and Lou Holz and those guys were coming to my high school and sitting in the stands and watching me play. It was unbelievable. All my friends were like, ‘Lou Holz is here watching you.' That made them want to play better and become better athletes so they could get an opportunity.

It was a real humbling experience for an inner city kid, having all these different schools wanting him to come play for them.

BSN: Who recruited you from CU?
DH:
It started off with a guy that no one seems to remember. His name was Steve Bernstein. He recruited me first. He started the process. I remember asking him, ‘How did you find me.' I didn't know how that worked until I got on the inside.

He started it off. He showed up at school one day. At first I thought I had done something wrong (laughing). You've got a white guy on campus who's not a coach or a teacher. You think it's an undercover cop or FBI or something.

But he got a job with Lou Tepper, and they went to Illinois. And Oliver Lucas took over. Then Coach Mac and Coach Barnett eventually took over the process.

BSN: What was it about CU that sold you on it?
DH:
The opportunity to play early, not too far from home. And with a lot of kids from the inner city who were already here or committed.

BSN: How does that experience of being recruited and going through that process help you in your role as a recruiter?
DH:
I just think my experience from my last job is going to help me. I traveled three weeks out of the month, I was always in front of boardrooms just talking to people and getting to know people. It just became a part of me, and I'm looking forward to doing that again.

BSN: Do you sense that kids are much different today than when you were being recruited, or are they basically the same?
DH:
I would say they're pretty much the same. The only thing is I think guys now are a little more pampered. …A scholarship isn't a right, it's a privilege.


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