First of all, Derek. It’s great to catch up with arguably the greatest all-around receiver at Arizona State.
So you’re living in Houston right now. What are you up to?
Derek Hagan: I’m doing some work out here with Comcast Sports Net. Sports entertainment is a field that I’d like to get into, and I was fortunate enough for them to bring me on. I’m doing some on-camera work and learning to use the teleprompter, things like that. We did some stuff during the regular season, and right now we’re covering the NFL combine. I’m very thankful that Comcast is helping me out and showing me how they do things.
You studied Business and Justice Law while at ASU. Did your interest in sports media evolve during your professional career?
Derek Hagan: When I was in college, business was what I was interested in. If I could go back, I probably would have considered a communications degree or possibly sports marketing. I just went a different route at the time. Since I’ve been a football player my whole life, I’ve learned how much sports is about entertainment. People live and die for sports. That’s what they love.
Have you considered coaching?
I have thought about coaching, but I’m not 100% sure about it yet. If I was to start, I would want to start small as in training wide receivers one-on-one.
Over the past 7 years, you’ve been with several teams in the league. Are you in training right now and what is your current status in the NFL?
Derek Hagan: I’m still training and still staying in shape. I’m giving it one more go this year. I didn’t play last season which was the first time in 15 to 20 that I didn’t played the game. It’s been an eye-opener because I’ve come to terms that my NFL career might be over since I didn’t play. But I’m giving it one more shot.
I’m coming out for ASU’s Pro Day in March to run a few routes and get a some new exposure with the scouts. My agent is doing the work necessary to hopefully get me back into a uniform. If not, I’ll be ready to do something new.
So I understand when you signed with the Miami Dolphins after your senior season, you were still a couple units shy of graduating. Now I hear you’ve earned your degree. How did that come together?
Derek Hagan: First of all, it means a whole lot to me to have finally earned my degree. It’s something that I worked really hard for at ASU, and that was always the main priority while I was in school. (Derek became the very first “Scholar Baller” in the country, the program that ASU’s Jean Boyd co-founded to recognize student athletes with high performance in the classroom).
I wish I would have gotten my degree before I left ASU because I only needed two more credits. So it was either now or never, and I’m really glad I did it. No one can ever take that away from you. I earned those credits by shadowing a teacher and speaking to classes at UCF (University of Central Florida). And now it’s official. I’ve got my diploma on my wall, and now I can finally say that I’m an alumni of Arizona State. It’s a great feeling.
In the next 3-5 years, where would you ideally see yourself?
Derek Hagan: If I don’t sign with a team, I’m considering continuing my education and getting a Masters Degree in Communications. It could go a long way in helping me in a new career.
Ultimately, I’d love to be in the booth. It would be great to get back to Arizona State or possibly the Pac-12 Network. I know the game pretty well, and that’s what I love. I’m the type of guy who likes to travel and likes to be around the game. I’d also like to be on the sidelines to interview players and stuff. To me, it’s not just about the things that athletes do on the field. It’s also about the stuff they get done off the field which people don’t normally talk about.
On that note, you were in a great documentary that gave a behind-the-scenes look at you and three other players as you prepared for the NFL Draft back in 2005. What was that like?
Derek Hagan: The documentary is called “Two Days in April.” It gives you a look at the whole process, and shows how things really are for the players trying to make it. I was with three or four other guys at the IMG Academy in Florida where agents and trainers prepared us for the combine. It wasn’t just about the physical training. They also taught us how to present ourselves to teams and sit down with them. After a few months, we forgot the cameras were even there, and it got real.
Teachers have shown it to their students as a tool to let them see things that they can’t see on the field. It’s got a 5-star rating on Netflix which is pretty cool. Being in that film was probably the start of my interest in Sports Entertainment. (Here’s a review of “Two Days in April”.)
You grew up in Palmdale, California and were a star athlete at Palmdale High School. I heard you got to know Demario Richard, another standout from Palmdale and one of ASU’s three incoming running backs.
Derek Hagan: I’ve been following Demario the last 3 years. He was playing varsity as a 14-year old. He’s been the cream of the crop for Palmdale which has always been a successful program, but he’s taken that team to new places. As a running back, he’s just demolished teams. It’s been unbelievable to see the kind of points they’ve been putting up. Knowing that he’s headed to ASU and he’s a Palmdale guy, I couldn’t be happier for him.
I’ve told him they’ve got two other guys coming in, and that nothing will be given to him. He’s got to go our there, embrace it and take it. He has to work hard day in and day out and lead by example. I can’t wait ’til he gets started.
What’s Demario like as a kid?
Derek Hagan: He’s outgoing. He’s 17-years old with big, bright eyes who knows he’s getting ready to go off to college. He’s taking that next step towards his goal of ultimately playing professional sports. He’s just real excited and can’t wait to get out there and put on that Maroon & Gold uniform.
(Laughing) You know, just talking about it makes me want to put that jersey on again.
You were out for the Spring Game last year then the SC game when you were honored for your accomplishments at ASU. You’ve also been pretty vocal and supportive of the program on Twitter. What are your thoughts about Todd Graham and the revived culture around ASU?
Derek Hagan: This program is on the rise. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to get over that hump to be consistently successful. I love what Graham is doing. He’s brought a different mentality. These guys are hungry, and I’ve never seen anything like it. Every player is disciplined. I don’t think there’s any guys on the team that have bad character.
Graham brings that team-first mentality and discipline. I’m looking forward to ASU dominating the Pac-12 South for years to come. It starts with recruiting and getting the right guys, and they’re getting it done right now. With winning comes more fans. More recruits will want to come in. Then comes more revenue. It’s just great to be a Sun Devil right now.
When you’re at a game or watching the Devils on TV, do you view it as an player or as a fan. What’s your perspective?
Derek Hagan: I watch it as both. As a player, I can tell what’s about to happen on the field and sometimes I’m critiquing where players need to be. At the same time I’m yelling at the tv when there’s a turnover or a score. That’s just how it goes.
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