Hagerup is one to watch

Chris Hagerup is garnering acclaim as one of the best kicking and punting prospects in the class of 2007, but the Whitefish Bay, Wis., product also wants to prove himself a scholarship-worthy quarterback when he has the opportunity to throw the ball more as a senior.

Chris Hagerup is redefining the punt, pass and kick challenge.

The 6-foot-4, 197-pound class of 2007 prospect from Whitefish Bay, Wis., is being recruited as a kicker, punter and as a quarterback, and is receiving kudos as a prospect at all three positions.

Hagerup is waiting for his first scholarship offer, but he is receiving interest from "every Big Ten school", he said in a telephone interview last week, and far-flung Division I programs such as Colorado, Stanford and Arizona.

What is fascinating about Hagerup is that he has effectively only played organized football for two years, and the first was purely as a kicker. He is an impressive athlete; at the Scout.com Combine in Iowa City he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds, completed the 20-yard shuttle in 4.34 seconds and broad jumped 10 feet.

"Last year was just my first year playing quarterback," Hagerup said. "So a lot of schools want to see another year… They are all going to want to see that senior-year highlight tape and see what I do."

Directing a wing-T offense last season, Hagerup completed 61 of 130 passes for 796 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also rushed 53 times for 132 yards and a touchdown.

"Last year I did pretty well considering the fact that we did the run ball about 85 percent of the time with the wing T," Hagerup said.

"When you see him play, you just can't believe he's only played football for two years and that 2005 was his first year at (quarterback)," Whitefish Bay head coach Jim Tietjen said in a press release. "He's an incredible athlete and a very quick study."

Hagerup will have more opportunity to show off his wares this fall, as Whitefish Bay is transitioning to the use of a spread offense.

"We are changing our offense to the spread rather than the wing T (we ran) last year," Hagerup said. "So that's another big factor. So I'll be able to throw the ball a little bit."

"I guess (the wing T) was good for a (first-year) starter and not being really familiar with exactly what the position is," Hagerup said. "Now that I look back on it I wish I could have thrown a lot more. But I'm really excited about the spread offense next year."

New to the gridiron

Hagerup grew up playing soccer, and also played organized basketball and baseball prior to high school.

"I played (soccer) just because our team was really good, and I was pretty good as a player," Hagerup said. "I played because I had been playing.

"But I really actually enjoyed football. I always played pickup games, and I did some flag football leagues. But you couldn't do both with soccer.

"Finally, once I tore my ACL, that was just like the final straw. And then I decided to pursue football. But it happened, ironically, that I tore my other ACL the second week of (football) practice."

Hagerup tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left, non-kicking, knee in April 2003, while playing soccer near the end of his eighth grade year.

He actually went out for football as a freshman that August, but he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the "fourth or fifth practice."

"They were saying it was going to be six months to a year" for rehabilitation, Hagerup said, of his first ACL injury. "And I came back within like three months, and I was really excited about football. Then it happened again."

"It was kind of tough to deal with," he said. "The second time I did it I knew within five seconds. It was the same exact feeling. I was, ‘Oh, no.' But I fought back."

Hagerup made another rapid recovery and actually returned to play in the last game of the season for Whitefish Bay's freshman squad.

"Actually, the funny thing is I was going to be quarterback freshman year, because the coaches had seen me and they thought I had a really good arm, and I had speed and I was tall," Hagerup said. "But the last play of our freshman year they actually put me in at quarterback and I threw a 60-yard touchdown pass at the end of the game."

That was Hagerup's first play in an organized football game.

"Then sophomore year, I would (have been) playing quarterback, but I threw out my arm in baseball," Hagerup said. "I think I had a minor tear in my shoulder… So I wasn't able to throw sophomore year. So I just kicked sophomore year."

Last fall he was finally able to enjoy a season playing quarterback, in addition to kicking and punting, on Whitefish Bay's varsity. He was an all-conference punter and an honorable mention all-conference kicker.

Hagerup played basketball and baseball his freshman and sophomore years, but chose to focus on football this year.

"I haven't lost love for the game," he said of baseball, "but it's kind of hard to do with the amount of the time it takes up in the summer and all these colleges that I'm trying to get to…

"I've been playing basketball for about six years now. But I was gone pretty much every weekend for different kicking and quarterback events. That doesn't really go too well with the coaches when you are skipping basketball for other sports.

"But if I get a scholarship or I'm deciding what I'm doing for college and I know what I'm going to do, I'll probably end up playing basketball next year."

Building interest

Hagerup's athletic ability, and his potential to play three positions in college, make him an interesting prospect. How well he plays his senior year, and in camps this summer, will go a long way toward determining what his options are in the end.

"I'm getting a lot of interest," Hagerup said. "Lately, I would say, just as much interest now at quarterback" as he has received as a kicker or punter. "It is pretty equivalent. It really depends on what the school needs. But I've been getting, I would say, just as much interest now at quarterback."

Hagerup said he would prefer to play quarterback in college if he is asked to specialize.

"I would definitely have to say quarterbacking by far," he said. "If I wasn't good at kicking I don't think I'd like it to be honest. But quarterbacking, I would love it no matter what."

Hagerup, though, has exhibited considerable potential as a kicker and punter; those could be the positions where he truly separates himself from the pack of college prospects. And once he has a foot in the door—perhaps literally—his athletic ability could allow him to turn heads at all three positions.

Last fall he averaged 39 yards and 3.7 seconds hang time per punt, made 5 of 8 field-goal attempts, including a 43-yarder, 18 of 20 extra-point attempts (both misses were blocked), and had 14 touchbacks out of 29 kickoffs.

In the press release, Andy Kohl, the punting director for Kohl's Professional Kicking Camps, called Hagerup a "(p)rototypical (Division I) punter — big, strong, and athletic. If he chooses to focus on punting, he truly has the full potential and work ethic to develop into a professional punter. Each year, I coach and evaluate literally hundreds of punters from around the country. Right now, even with his interest in other positions, Chris is the equal of any high school punter in the country, even those who solely focus on punting."

"Modern(-)day model for (Division I) kickers," raved Jamie Kohl, the director of Kohl's Professional Kicking Camps. "(A)lready highly coordinated, with enough leg speed and talent to step right into a (Division I) program. I have absolutely no doubt that he will be a tremendous college kicker and, if he wants to pursue it, he has an excellent chance to kick in the pros. I have seen very few athletes of his size, with his amount of athleticism, leg speed, motor skills, and coordination."

Hagerup has been to five combines this spring. In addition to the Iowa City Scout.com Combine, Hagerup has attended Nike camps in Chicago and on Georgia's campus in Athens, Ga., the Elite 11 camp in Atlanta on Georgia Tech's campus, and the adidas camp in Madison, Wis. His best combine numbers include a 4.64-second 40-yard dash, 4.12 20-yard shuttle, 7.12 three-cone, 15 reps at 185 pounds on the bench press, and a 34-inch vertical jump.

He was originally slated to attend a combine in Indianapolis this month, and a Chris Sailer kicking/punting combine in Las Vegas, but his knee was bothering him after he suffered a minor injury in a 7-on-7 game.

"My knee was not up to 100 percent," Hagerup said. "I figured I wouldn't go if I was only going to be kicking and throwing at 80 percent…

"I just twisted it a little. We are doing this passing league that we do on Saturdays. I was running and I just cut on it weird. It's not anything major at all, which is good."

Hagerup said he has not suffered any complications with his knees since the two ACL injuries.

"I couldn't say that I have," he said. "I had that little knee thing the other weekend but that wasn't ACL related. That was just something else."

Since Hagerup could not make it to the camp in Las Vegas for college prospects, Sailer has invited him to an upcoming camp for Division I kickers and punters in Sherman Oaks, Calif., near Los Angeles.

In addition to Iowa, Wisconsin, Georgia and Georgia Tech — campuses he visited in conjunction with trips to combines — Hagerup has been to Iowa State, Purdue and Drake.

What are his summer plans?

"It's kind of going to be week-to-week, what I can fit in my schedule," he said. "I know I'm going to go to Wisconsin, Purdue. I think I'm going to make it to pretty much all the Big Ten schools, plus Stanford and Colorado. It's going to be week-to-week."

Regarding Stanford, Hagerup said, "they just have written I think five or six handwritten letters, and they seem pretty interested. My parents would like it if I went out there."

Hagerup grew up with an affinity for Wisconsin, but that does not necessarily mean that he would choose the Badgers if scholarship offers materialized.

"I would say the most that I would be interested in would probably just be — just because I'm kind of biased towards Wisconsin because both my parents went there, my sister is going there and my grandparents," Hagerup said. "They've kind of grown me up as a Badger."

So should Wisconsin be considered Hagerup's favorite?

"I would say if I had to choose, but I would definitely also have to say that I'm not counting anything out at this point," he said.

"… If offers came, I wouldn't even have to say that I would definitely choose Wisconsin. It is just that that's what I've been around."

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