Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez was the newest victim on Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman’s sack list Saturday. The redshirt senior continues to be a force for the Golden Gophers and is rounding out to be the type of player that opposing offensive coordinators fear.
“He gets better and better every week and I’ll put him against any lineman in the Big Ten,” said interim head coach Tracy Claeys after the game. “I would not want to play against Ra’Shede with the way he’s playing.”
Hageman had two tackles for a loss against the Cornhuskers, including an eight yard sack of Martinez. The sack came immediately following another Martinez sack play by the Minneapolis native but he was flagged for a personal foul penalty for face masking.
“I feel like I had to help my team,” Hageman said. “I had to come back and fight adversity. I got off the ball angry and just attacked my man and made a play. You really don’t think when you are out there.”
His anger and motor are beginning to show through more and more each week for Minnesota. His comfort level lined up over the center or on the outside is a force to be dealt with. Most teams have resulted to using double and triple-team blocking against Hageman throughout games.
Still, Hageman gets into the backfield and disrupts offenses. The Northwestern Wildcats got all they wanted from the big man. His ability to bat down passes and even hang on to one of them for a key interception, helped display yet another of his talents.
His knowledge of the defensive tackle position has come a long way since he first switched to the defensive side of the ball after being recruited as a tight end from Minneapolis Washburn high school. Those tight end skills have shown through multiple times on the year and will be a big part of his draft stock.
The most impressive part of his standout play against Nebraska, was his ability to come off a personal foul penalty and immediately turn around, correct his mistake, and make the same big play in a big game. That shows a lot of maturity and determination.
That determination combined with his size and strength should have him at the top of most NFL Draft position charts for interior defensive lineman. At 6-foot-6 and 311 pounds, Hageman will make scouts blush at next year’s combine.
Only South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney has arguably a better combination of size, strength, and speed on the defensive line entering the draft. What Hageman has over Clowney is his character and make-up as football player and a man.
Fellow players and coaches rave about Hageman’s work ethic and his dedication to his team. Something that has come into question with Clowney over his career.
With six wins on the season for Minnesota already, Hageman and his teammates won’t need much motivation to push through and fight for a higher profile bowl game. Just the national spotlight that Hageman deserves to increase his draft stock and make a splash on college football fans.