Scoggins: Gophers' Hageman knows it's time to tap potential

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 7, 2012 - 10:52 AM

The U's huge, athletic junior spent two years learning a new job. Now he needs to dominate.


Gopher defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman (99) had two sacks and a forced fumble in last year’s final game vs. Illinois. “That boosted my confidence going into this year,” he said. “It really showed how far I could climb.”

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Jerry Kill is not prone to hyperbole or hype. He doesn't hang unrealistic expectations around the neck of any player.

The Gophers football coach probably finds it tempting, though, every time he sees Ra'Shede Hageman run onto the field.

"There's not many people physically that's walking around like that," Kill acknowledged.

Hageman sure looks the part. He looks like a big-time defensive tackle should, like they do at Ohio State and Michigan and any other top college program. Hageman is a chiseled specimen, 6-6 and 305 pounds, with little body fat and a 36-inch vertical jump.

Kill should ask Hageman to lead the team off the bus before every road game. He's that physically impressive.

"That's an explosive big man," defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said.

But here's the rub: Can Hageman's performance match his appearance? Can he dominate on a consistent basis and not just show flashes of it? That's still unknown.

Nobody questions whether Hageman, a junior from Minneapolis, has the necessary physical attributes and natural athletic ability to develop into an elite lineman. That's easy to see. Now he just needs to harness it, continue to mature as a player and understand that his potential is limitless if he works hard at it.

"It's untapped right now," Kill said.

The optimism stems from Hageman's increased comfort level after switching from tight end early in his career. Like any player learning a new position, he endured some tough moments, felt lost at times.

Hageman feels like a defensive tackle now. He has a better understanding of the techniques, gap assignments and demands of the position. He realizes that double teams, cut blocks and dirty work simply come with the territory and can't trigger frustration and a loss of focus.

"Sometimes after the game you're three inches shorter because you've been doubled so much," Claeys said. "It's not an easy job."

Hageman understands that now. He's no longer new to the position so naturally expectations change, especially for a guy with his size and athletic ability.

"It's on me now," he said. "I take full responsibility for what happens to me."

Hageman turned a corner late in his sophomore season. He started to flash more in practice and games. The game slowed down and everything started to make sense. As Kill describes it, "the lightbulb just went on."

Hageman punctuated it by collecting two sacks and a forced fumble against Illinois in the season finale. His performance reinforced the belief that he could impact the game as a disruptive inside pass rusher.

"That boosted my confidence going into this year," he said. "It really showed how far I could climb. It lifted my spirits and motivated me to do the same."

The Gophers believe Hageman has a chance to blossom into a force on the defensive line, which is a foreign concept to the program. The Gophers haven't produced a defensive lineman feared by opposing offenses and coaches since Lamanzer Williams and Karon Riley in the late 1990s. In recent years, Willie VanDeSteeg earned all-conference honors and Anthony Montgomery had a few nice moments, but the list of distinguished performers at that position is fairly short.

The Gophers never will attract too many blue-chip defensive line prospects because those guys are in short supply and have their choice of schools. Instead, they must identify players who are undersized or raw and then develop them over the years.

Hageman fits that mold. He started as a tight end, changed positions and now has two seasons to showcase his talent.

"His upside is tremendously high," Claeys said. "You don't find very many kids [with his size and athleticism]. They make a lot of money in the NFL because it's hard to find those guys. We're very fortunate to have him. He has a great attitude and as long as he continues to work hard, he's going to see the benefits."

Hageman hears that buzz and realizes expectations are higher. Yes, he looks intimidating in a football uniform. He knows that means nothing, however, if he doesn't play like it, too.

"I'm not hyping myself up," he said. "I'll just let my play do the talking."

Chip Scoggins •

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Texas - N. Martinez 2:35 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
Boston - B. Workman 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - G. Cole
Toronto - R. Dickey 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - S. Greene
Washington - G. Gonzalez 6:10 PM
Miami - B. Hand
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Milwaukee - K. Lohse 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Arizona - V. Nuno 7:40 PM
Colorado - Y. Flande
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 8:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
Seattle - F. Hernandez 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Tampa Bay 7:25 PM
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question