U-Va.'s Hagans Takes Do-It-All Hope to Rams
By Dan Steinberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 1, 2006;
During five years at Virginia, Marques Hagans changed positions more frequently than a beer-league softball star. He spent two seasons alternating between quarterback, wide receiver, punt returner and running back. He once threw a touchdown pass as an option fullback, and another time he intercepted a pass out of a punt formation.
As a sophomore, he was Virginia's backup quarterback and also finished as the team's sixth-leading receiver, third-leading rusher and leading punt returner. When the 5-foot-9, 202-pound Hagans became the Cavaliers' starting quarterback, he had both 300-yard passing days and 100-yard rushing days, and he also tied the school record for games played.
So yesterday, when the St. Louis Rams drafted Hagans midway through the fifth round, there was some confusion about how to identify him. The NFL prospect database listed him as a wide receiver, the position he had trained for in recent weeks. Rams Coach Scott Linehan said that Hagans's best chance to earn a roster spot would be as a punt returner but that coaches also projected him as a running back and slot receiver.
"Whatever it takes," Hagans said in a conference call with reporters. "It's a chance to make a living by doing something that you've been doing your whole life: playing football and playing a bunch of different positions."
Linehan said Hagans's multitasking would continue in St. Louis. He said that if Hagans made the team, coaches would consider gadget plays in which Hagans lined up at quarterback, and he raised the possibility of using Hagans as an emergency substitution in the defensive secondary. He compared Hagans to Washington Redskins wide receiver Antwaan Randle El and called Hagans "one of those toys on offense. You can put him in there and he plays something one play and something else the other play."
"These kinds of guys are kind of valuable," Linehan said. "I think you see it has been kind of the new wave in the NFL lately, to have these returners that kind of wear a lot of hats. This guy is really special in that category, in my opinion."
Hagans was taken earlier than most analysts had projected, and he said he had expected to sign with a team as an undrafted free agent. But Linehan said that the Rams had their eye on Hagans from the beginning of the fourth round and that Rams special teams coach Bob Ligashesky identified Hagans as the second day's most desirable specialist.
"The biggest draw for us with Marques was his return ability," Linehan said. "He will be in the punt return mix right away."
Hagans was one of four Cavaliers taken on the draft's second day. Tackle Brad Butler, known best for a late hit that derailed the season of Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, went one pick before Hagans, to the Buffalo Bills. Wali Lundy, chosen with the first pick of the sixth round, could become the answer to a trivia question: Which running back did the Houston Texans select the year they passed on Reggie Bush? And Kurt Smith, a kickoff specialist who attempted just 12 field goals at Virginia, was taken by the San Diego Chargers in the sixth round.
Six Virginia Tech players -- tight end Jeff King, defensive lineman Jonathan Lewis, safety Justin Hamilton, center Jimmy Martin, guard Will Montgomery and running back Cedric Humes -- were chosen yesterday, giving the Hokies a total of nine draft picks.
Safety Antoine Bethea, who had one of the most decorated careers in Howard history, was taken by the Indianapolis Colts with a sixth-round compensatory pick, and Maryland cornerback Gerrick McPhearson was drafted by the New York Giants late in the seventh round.
Re: U-Va.'s Hagans Takes Do-It-All Hope to Rams
Hey, I resemble a beer league softball guy? Can I run back punts?
Just kidding. That's one job on an NFL team I would NEVER want. Especially the way our ST has played in recent years. One miss block by anyone that allows those gunners a free shot going full speed is not my idea of earning a paycheck.