JuCo DE Ernest Bagner bags a Big Ten offer from Illinois

California junior college defensive end lands first power-five conference offer from Illinois

Ernest Bagner earned the nickname "Sensei" for his sack celebration.

After taking down a quarterback, Bagner liked to put his palms together as if to pray and bow to the sideline.

"I stopped doing it because I kept getting warnings (from the referees) and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties," Bagner said.


At least that means Bagner, a sophomore defensive end at Riverside (Calif.) City College, frequently gets to the quarterback.

His production (8.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks in eight games so far this season) and game tape earned him his biggest scholarship offer yet with Illinois calling him with the good news earlier this week.

"Coach (Mike) Phair the d-line coach is the one who called me and told me they had offered me," Bagner told Illini Inquirer. "It was exciting. It's my first Big Ten offer. It's actually my biggest offer so far. I went and put it on Twitter and that got me the most favorites and retweets so far too, so it was a blessing."

Bagner, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound edge rusher, now has four scholarship offers: Illinois, Toledo, New Mexico and Idaho. The California kid didn't expect Big Ten interest.

"I don't know much about it to be honest," Bagner said. "I didn't really expect to get a Big Ten offer. I figured it'd be from the Pac-12 because that's where I'm at. But seeing colleges from across the U.S. to look at me is exciting."

He's now trying to learn as much as possible about Illinois, which is in great need of immediate impact defensive ends with NFL prospects Dawuane Smoot and Carroll Phillips set to graduate after this season.

"I know about the type of defense they run," Bagner said. "They just got Lovie Smith as head coach and he was in the NFL for years. I know what type of schemes they play and just general stuff like that."

Bagner said he will take visits in December, and Illinois figures to be one of them. He said he also is receiving interest from Montana, Texas A&M and Kansas State.

"I'm looking for a defense that will fit me," Bagner said. "I want a place where I can fit in. I want to play in a 4-3 if I'm a defensive end or I'd want to play linebacker in a 3-4. I'm an athletic pass rusher that could collapse the pocket and either get the quarterback to scramble out or step in."

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