Three to watch: Local players headed for the NFL

Ra’Shede Hageman, Brock Vereen and Zach Moore hope to realize a dream in this week’s NFL draft.

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Zach Moore of Concordia (St. Paul) is expected to be taken in this week in the NFL draft.

Photo: Jerry Holt • Jerry.holt@startribune.com,

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The NFL draft isn’t always a showcase for Gophers players, or for standouts from state schools. Last year, 254 names were called without a Minnesota college represented.

That won’t be the case in 2014. At least three players, with starkly different profiles, will give local football fans something other than the Vikings to watch.

Gophers defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman and defensive back Brock Vereen, and Concordia (St. Paul) defensive end Zach Moore are expected to be chosen during the three-day draft. Each completed private workouts and visits before having a few days to unwind from that taxing process before finding where they’ll start their NFL stints.

“There are no words you can put into when your name gets called and you’re part of a team,” Hageman said. “That’s what every kid dreams about doing — playing football and finally going to the draft and having your name called.”

The Lock: Ra’Shede Hageman

You’d be hard-pressed to find another 6-6, 310-pound defensive tackle in the draft with Hageman’s ability, and it’s why he’s projected as a first-round pick. He is one of a record 30 prospects invited to New York City for the draft and has a chance to be the first Gophers player picked in the first round since running back Laurence Maroney in 2006, and the first Gophers defensive lineman to go in the first since Aaron Brown in 1966.

Hageman doesn’t want to return to Radio City Music Hall for Day 2 on Friday, but he’s ready for that possibility.

“I’m definitely preparing for the worst, just because,” Hageman said. “I’m not that person just to brag or think I’m going to go in the first round. I’m just soaking up the opportunity to be there. If I happen to go first round, so be it.”

Hageman, a tight end at Minneapolis Washburn who was converted to defense by the Gophers, could slide into the second round because of questions about his work ethic and consistency. Hageman acknowledged these flaws, and said he has been asked about them by NFL teams. He temporarily moved to Milwaukee to train during the draft process and focused on improving his conditioning and mobility.

“These are things I can change and have been working on,” Hageman said. “So when I get that chance, I can definitely prove them wrong and use that to my game. Everybody has flaws, you have to understand. The fact that you can address your flaws and know what your flaws are, that’s taking a step forward to changing them.”

Hageman will be surrounded at his draft table with people that assisted him in achieving this goal. With him will be his parents, Eric Hageman and Jill Coyle, who adopted Ra’Shede after he bounced around in foster care; his younger brother, Xavier; his Washburn coach, Giovan Jenkins; and Gophers coach Jerry Kill.

The All-Big Ten first-team player doesn’t know how he’ll react when he shakes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand.

“I might be emotional, I don’t know,” Hageman said. “Nothing that big has ever happened to me.

“If it wasn’t for my parents and playing sports, I really don’t know where I’d be. Every day you have to be thankful for where you are because there are some friends and teammates with the same opportunities that didn’t take it.”

The Sleeper: Brock Vereen

Vereen was viewed as a Day 3 prospect at the start of the draft process until he aced his biggest test at the NFL combine. The Gophers standout posted the second-fastest 40-yard-dash time for a safety at 4.47 seconds and led all defensive backs with 25 bench press repetitions at 225 pounds.

“When you watch him on tape, his versatility to play safety and then you’ve seen him play some nickel and then, at the end of the season, you seen him play corner … and you see just how smart he is and aware he is when you watch the tape,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said at the Gophers Pro Day on March 3. “And then he goes to the combine and blows out a 40 … that really opened a lot of people’s eyes.”

Vereen’s versatility was his biggest sell until the combine. With his combine numbers, some think he could sneak into the third round. While he wouldn’t disclose which ones, the 6-foot, 200-pounder said he’s had 10 private workouts and/or visits with NFL teams.

His brother, Patriots running back Shane Vereen, warned him about how difficult the draft process will be and, at times, Brock said he lost sight of Shane’s biggest advice.

“He told me to have fun with the process and to really feel grateful to even be in this position in the first place,” Brock said. “It’s been a long process, that’s for sure. These four months felt like years.”

Brock will watch the draft with his family in California. His father, Henry, was drafted in the ninth round by Tampa Bay in 1979 before playing in the Canadian Football League. Shane, who went to Cal, entered the league in 2011 as the Patriots’ second-round choice. Mother Venita was a standout tennis player at UNLV, where she met Henry, and Brock described his childhood as competitive in an athletic environment. His favorite sport in elementary school was baseball, but he ditched it because it was “too sluggish” and focused on football when he was 12.

It turned out to be a good choice.

“It’s just a dream come true,” said Vereen about being an NFL draft pick. “A humbling moment to reflect on all the hard work it took to get to that point, but also a clean slate for what will hopefully be a long career.”

The Long Shot: Zach Moore

Most of the country will scratch their heads if Moore gets drafted, since he’s one of the obscure names that tend to pop up every year in later rounds. Concordia (St. Paul) hasn’t had a player taken in the NFL draft in the 45-year history of its football program.

Moore, who had a school-record 33 sacks at Concordia, was also the first Golden Bear to be invited to the combine. The 6-5, 269-pound defensive end ran the 40 in 4.84 seconds and posted a 10-yard split, which measures explosiveness off the snap, of 1.56 seconds. Moore felt satisfied by the performance.

The Chicago native had ambitions of playing Division I football coming out of Simeon Career Academy, where he went to school with Bulls point guard Derrick Rose and Cowboys linebacker Martez Wilson, but Moore didn’t qualify academically. He was referred to Concordia by one of the college coaches recruiting him out of high school.

“I thought I would transfer, but when I got to Concordia I met a lot of great people, great professors, loved the coaching staff and developed some good relationships,” said Moore, who sat out one season because of academic ineligibility. “I wanted to give a small school a voice. It was a pretty good five years.”

Moore learned to play in different types of defenses at Concordia, but the three-time all-NSIC player has constantly been asked about the level of competition at Division II.

“People fail to realize that there’s competition at every level,” Moore said. “Just because it’s not publicized or broadcast on TV like some of these D-I schools, to me really it’s not that big of an adjustment.”

Moore will be watching the draft as the pride of not only Concordia but his family and neighborhood. He grew up in south Chicago in the Bronzeville district, which was once known as a hotbed for singers such as Lou Rawls and Sam Cooke. The area now evokes negative connotations along with the rest of south Chicago — gang violence, drugs and poverty. Moore said he didn’t have much growing up, but gave credit to his parents for properly guiding him.

“It’s hard to put that feeling into words,” Moore said. “It means much more to me that I’m representing not only myself but the school, the football [team], my family back home, Simeon High School and a lot of other things.”











 

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Tennessee 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 97 FINAL
Portland 104
Houston 115 FINAL
Denver 111
Indiana 100 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 55 FINAL
New Mexico 76
Howard 45 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Portland 73 FINAL
UNLV 75
CS-Northridge 56 FINAL
Oregon 79
Grambling St 38 FINAL
Washington 86
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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