Nose Guard/Defensive Tackle
University of Minnesota Gophers
Washburn High School
If Hageman had to choose role models, he could not have picked a better pair than Houston's J.J. Watt and Detroit's Ndamukong Suh, as he tries to combine their best attributes to blend into his own style of play. He calls Suh "a beast" and noted that "Watt is so quick." The nose guard also used the benefit of his senior season to refine some rough areas of his game, even though many expected him to bolt school early for life in the National Football League last year.
Hageman also said the main reason he didn't turn pro was that he wanted to get his degree. He also admitted he had more to learn about playing the position. "I want to be fundamentally sound before I head to the next level," he said. Now a towering 310-pound nose guard, he is still relatively a neophyte as a down lineman, having been signed to originally play as a 235-pound tight end in 2009.
Hageman had to work through a "few bumps in the road" to become the mature, respected team leader he is today. The two-year starter spent part of his youth shuttling through the foster care system before being adopted by two lawyers. Being in a less stressful home environment helped him excel in athletics during his prep days.
Hageman attended local Washburn High School, where he helped the team compile an 8-2 mark and a 5-1 conference record as a senior. The previous season, he gained 663 yards with 12 touchdowns on 25 receptions. The three-time All-City selection was named all-state by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Minnesota Football Coaches Association, the Associated Press and the Minnesota Vikings in 2008.
Hageman was named all-metro by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and earned all-conference honors after he hauled in 11 touchdown passes as a senior. He played in the Under Armour All-America Game and was ranked as the top tight end prospect and the 97th-best overall prospect in the nation by recruiting expert Tom Lemming.
He also ranked as the third-best player in the state of Minnesota by Rivals.com, as that recruiting service regarded him as the sixth-best tight end in the nation. Scout.com, ESPN.com and Scouts, Inc. rated him the 11th- best in the nation at his position and he earned a four-star rating from Scout.
Hageman also excelled in basketball and some schools regarded him as a better prospect in hoops than on the gridiron. When Minnesota was recruiting the youngster, they offered him scholarships in both sports. He earned a three-star rating from Rivals after he averaged 12.0 points per game on the hardwood as a junior. He also competed in that sport for the Howard Pulley AAU team.
Hageman turned down offers from more prestigious programs to stay close to home when he enrolled at Minnesota in 2009. Other finalists for his services were Florida, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. He arrived on campus as a tight end, but was converted to defensive end by the former coaching staff.
The once 235-pound tight end arrived at 2010 fall camp measuring in at 302 pounds. He was listed second on the depth chart at weak-side defensive tackle, appearing in eight games before being ruled academically ineligible, finishing with five tackles.
Hageman improved his academics and was reinstated to the team for the 2011 schedule, but still could not crack the starting lineup. In 12 contests, he posted 13 tackles with a pair of sacks. He shifted to nose guard the following season, starting all 13 contests. The All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention ranked second on the team with six sacks, delivering 7.5 stops-for-loss among his 35 tackles.
As a senior, Hageman enjoyed a banner campaign, as the consensus All-Big Ten Conference first-team choice again started all 13 games at nose guard. He paced the Gophers with 13 stops behind the line of scrimmage, receiving the team's version of the Bronko Nagurski Award while being named All-American third-team after he posted 38 tackles with two sack, an interception and a pair of blocked kicks.
Hageman cemented his place among the draft's elite players with his stellar performances throughout the week-long practices in Mobile leading up to the 2014 Senior Bowl. He caught a few "oohs and aahs" during the game's weigh-in, displaying a muscular frame with impressive arm length. He then went out to the field and flashed dominating strength and length, routinely driving opponents into the backfield with a his bull rush and showing impressive burst for a man of his imposing 6-foot-6, 318-pound frame.
Hageman was tough to handle in one-on-one drills — putting Miami guard Brandon Linder on his back during one particularly explosive rush — but carried over his impressive play into the full 11-on-11 scrimmages, as well. He left the Senior Bowl convincing teams to consider his power, size and athleticism. Teams operating under 4-3 and 3-4 principles, alike, were taking notice.
Representatives from more than half the NFL teams were on-hand at the University of Minnesota pro day in early March, where nine former Gophers were among those to work out. The star attraction was Hageman, who went through an array of positional drills.
"Obviously, when the coaches came, they wanted to see me do drills, see how my footwork is and just my technique or whatever," Hageman told USA Today. "So, I felt like it was a good move for me. I feel like I put a good amount of numbers just to stand out at the combine."
Hageman is seeking to become the first Gopher selected in the first round since running back Laurence Maroney in 2006. "That is a very long time," Hageman told the Star-Tribune. "So I think I'm just going to barricade myself in my room. Just play video games and just work out."
Hageman appeared in a total of 46 games at Minnesota, starting his final 26 contests at nose guard…Finished with 91 tackles (57 solos), as he delivered 10 sacks for minus 76 yards, 24.0 stops for losses totaling 114 yards and one quarterback pressure… Caused two fumbles, recovered another and blocked two kicks…Gained 7 yards via an interception return and deflected 10 passes.