Gophers coach Jerry Kill has helped turn around the football program academically, and one of the best examples is defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman. To put it simply, school did not seem like a priority for Hageman when Kill first arrived on campus three years ago.

One time Hageman thought about skipping class, heard a knock on his door and saw his new head coach ready to personally escort him to school.

On Wednesday, Hageman finished his last college final, turning in a paper for an astronomy class. By that night, he learned he’d received a C-minus for the class, good enough to complete his degree in youth studies.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of people that were on my side, but at the end of the day, I’m the man with the pencil and the paper,” Hageman said. “I had a lot of supporters, like Coach Kill and the academic staff. They kept on grinding, kept on pushing me to do things, but at the end of the day I had to do the work.”

The 6-6, 310-pound Hageman is a projected first- or second-round NFL draft pick.

“He’s got a great future ahead of him, but he’s also got a college degree that will help him do other things in his lifetime, and you need both in this day and age,” Kill said. “The way it is, you never know when your last play is, so having a college education, at the end of the day it’s the most important thing.

“I promise you, there’s nobody more proud of that kid – besides his family – than this coaching staff and Coach Kill.”

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