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NFL draft: Gophers' Hageman goes to Falcons in second round

By Chris Tomasson

St. Paul Pioneer Press

For 36 picks over two days, Ra’Shede Hageman waited. Finally, he heard his name called Friday night.

Hageman, a University of Minnesota defensive tackle, had been projected by many to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft. That didn’t happen Thursday, but a day later he was taken in the second round by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 37 pick overall.

“At the end of the day, I’m just glad to get the opportunity to play football,” Hageman said. “I really didn’t care when and where I was going to be drafted.”

Earlier Friday, though, Hageman’s coach at Washburn High School, Giovan Jenkins, talked about the player’s frustration at not going in the first round.

“It was a little rough for him,” Jenkins said. “He was obviously disappointed. ... But the objective is to get drafted.”

Hageman won’t have to wait long for a homecoming. The Falcons face the Vikings on Sept. 28 at TCF Bank Stadium, where Hageman played in college.

Hageman said he believes he will be a good fit for the Falcons and he’s anxious to get started.

“They obviously have a lot of trust in me,” he said. “I’m just happy to get that chance to play football. … College is over with. Now, I can just focus on all of football. That’s what I want to do. I want to master the craft and use that to the advantage that I have.”

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Hageman, who graduated last December, was named to the All-Big Ten first team in 2013 while leading the Gophers with 13 tackles for loss. He’s the highest-drafted Minnesota player since running back Laurence Maroney went No. 21 in 2006 and the third highest since 1991.

“This is not only a great moment for him, but also for our program, the university and the state of Minnesota,” Gophers coach Jerry Kill said. “The Atlanta Falcons are not only getting a relentless football player, but also a college graduate. Atlanta is a great fit for Ra’Shede and his best years are still to come. I know he will continue to work hard every day to represent the Falcons, but also the Gophers, as he pursues his NFL dream.”

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.