It’s a rarity in Gopher football to see a player listed on its current roster from the Minneapolis City Conference. It’s even rarer that a city player is a starter as well. Ra’Shede Hageman is that rarity.
Hageman plays nose tackle this season for Minnesota (5-3). He formerly played tight end at Minneapolis Washburn but was switched to the defensive line when he was redshirted in 2009.
“I came here playing tight end,” recalls the 6-6 junior lineman, “and the whole change messed with me mentally and physically, but I had to overcome it and find a way to get over it. I’m going to be playing ‘D’ so I have to get used to it.”
It was a slow adjustment nonetheless to the rigorous demands a Division I football program has on its players on and off the field, an adjustment Hageman quickly admitted took him aback. “It’s a very big step…from high school,” he notes. “High school is a lot more different than college.”
Hageman saw action in eight games in 2010 but played in all 12 games in 2011. This season he has started every game thus far and is second on the Gophers in tackles for losses and sacks — he holds the most sacks (two) in a game this season. He also has been a game captain twice. The Gophers don’t have season captains; instead, a team leadership council chooses the game captain on a game-by-game basis.
Being a regular “feels good,” says the junior. “This is where I want to be. This is my chance to do what I can to help the team.”
“Ra’Shede has learned how to play defensive tackle,” reports U of M Coach Jerry Kill. “He’s still learning, and his best years are ahead of him.”
“I still have a whole bunch of things to work on,” agrees Hageman. “My coaches preach about that every day in practice. I am not trying to think too much. I’m trying to make things simple — sack the quarterback and cause turnovers.”
He’s fully aware that he is not yet a finished defensive product, but Hageman says he is seeing progress: “Getting to the ball has become easier than it was last year or the year before,” he says, adding that he’s “more prepared to deal with double teams [this season] than I was last year.”
“Athletically, he’s a gifted young man,” notes Kill.
A youth studies major, Hageman is proud of his academic progress as well. “School is fine,” he reports. “Without school, there’s no football.”
Hageman knows he’s representing not only the Gophers, but Washburn and the entire City Conference as well: “We obviously have talent in the city, and I preach about that all the time.”
Did you know…?
How many Black Gopher football players were named academic all-Americans? (Answer in next week’s “View.”)
Answer to last week’s question: Name the only Black female head coach to ever coach in the WNBA Finals: Cheryl Miller (1998) for Phoenix.
Media day quotables
They said it last week at Big Ten basketball media day in Chicago:
“We’ve got to stay healthy, and if we do that I think we will have a good chance,” said Minnesota Coach Tubby Smith.
“It’s given our university an opportunity to highlight all the other strengths in other areas…other sports. It hasn’t been a problem for women’s basketball,” said Penn State Coach Coquese Washington when asked if she ran into any difficulty selling her program since the football scandal.
“I expect her to lead. She’s got to have the ball in her hands,” said Ohio State Coach Jim Foster on senior guard Tayler Hill.
“It would be a very difficult thing to do across the board,” said Nebraska Coach Connie Yori on UConn Coach Geno Auriemma’s suggestion to lower the rims in women’s basketball in an effort to attract more fans.
“We just have to figure out how to close out some games and win on the road,” said Minnesota Coach Pam Borton on her team’s 2012-13 season prospects.
Preseason Big Ten picks
Last year’s conference champs Penn State were picked first in both the coaches and media preseason polls. Ohio State senior Tayler Hill was named the media preseason player of the year and the coaches’ preseason co-player of the year with Penn State’s Alex Bentley.
Hill, Bentley and U of M sophomore guard Rachel Banham made the six-player preseason all-conference team.
Another travesty of gender inequity
Sports Illustrated last week devoted just four paragraphs to the recent WNBA Finals, while Fox baseball and football announcer Joe Buck, who essentially got his job through nepotism — his late father Jack Buck was a Hall of Fame announcer — got four pages.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to [email protected]