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DT Hageman entering NFL as "underdog"

Posted May 2, 2014

Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman is looking for an NFL home.

But the college-to-professional journey pales in comparison to the one he went through as a child in Minneapolis-St. Paul, bouncing from one foster home to another with his younger brother.

Finding a home meant something entirely different back then.

"I was just blessed to be adopted by great parents who kind of gave me another opportunity for a childhood," Hageman said at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Local married couple Eric Hageman and Jill Coyle adopted Ra'Shede and his brother, Xavier, when the boys were seven and six years old respectively.

Ra'Shede finally had stability. And he finally had an opportunity to play organized sports.

"To be able to play sports (and) use that as an outlet, that definitely helped me," Hageman said. "I was able to trust my struggle and just kept moving forward."

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After graduating from Minnesota, Hageman is now projected to be a first- or second-round draft choice.

He came to the Gophers as a decorated tight end prospect but switched to defense as a redshirt freshman.

Hageman settled into his role on the defensive line and emerged as a disruptive force. The 6-6, 310-pounder finished his career with 91 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 10 sacks and earned first-team All-Big Ten conference honors as a senior.

But Hageman acknowledges that he's still new to the defensive tackle position and his technique needs refinement.

"Obviously, there are a lot of great defensive tackles here (at the combine), and I feel like I'm definitely a few steps behind them," Hageman said. "This is my (fourth) year playing D-tackle, and I've obviously gotten to where I am now just by being athletic and being strong. But I feel like there are a lot of D-tackles here that have been playing this position for a long time, and I feel that I have to catch up. Once I get a better sense of educating myself on D-tackle and what to look for on the O-line, I'll be able to stop thinking and play."

With that said, Hageman considers himself an underdog – a role he knows all too well.  

"I feel like I'm an underdog. I feel like a lot of people don't think I have the mechanics to play defensive tackle," Hageman said.

He's driven to prove that he can for whichever NFL city he's lucky enough to call home.

"I mean, 12 years ago," Hageman said, "I definitely wouldn't have seen this coming."