By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Gophers success with Texas Tech could depend on the defense’s ability to rush a quick rhythm passer.

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Enter Ra’Shede Hageman, who showed up a pass-catching tight end, learned a new skill and is now looked up to by his teammates for what he does.

Becoming A Leader

When you watched him in high school, you could see Hageman had gifts you could not teach: size, good hands.

He took some of those same football skills to the basketball court. But his aggressive play style didn’t quite fit.

“I had a little foul trouble back in basketball,” he said. “That’s why I converted to football.”

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So football it was. But his start with the Gophers wasn’t smooth. The early days were difficult; he’d not played tackle as long as others had.

“I had to learn quickly, and just work on my technique,” Hageman said.

He then emerged as an athletic force up front, wreaking havoc and setting a tone.

“He’s become a monster,” said his teammate Keenan Cooper, a linebacker. “He’s one of those guys you appreciate…as a linebacker. He’s gonna demand offensive linemen’s attention. He’s one of those guys you have to double team.”

And as Hageman prepares for the Care Bowl on Friday, he was awarded another honor – that of being named captain for next year’s team.

It’s perhaps the ultimate compliment.

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“It kind of surprised me,” Hageman said.

Mike Max