Derek Hagan joined the Bills in November of last year, after the team’s WR corps had taken a hit due to injuries. He was impressive right out of the gate, bringing a veteran presence to a young group and snagging 13 balls (7 for first downs) and one for a touchdown in just four games.
The team was so impressed with what he was able to contribute that they elected to re-sign him after the 2011 season. In OTAs this past week, Derek has lined up as a starter in Stevie Johnson’s absence due to groin surgery.
He was kind enough to spend some time this week answering a few questions we had for him.
First of all, thanks for taking the time to do this. I’ve been following your career for some time now and I thought it was pretty cool last year when your path crossed my favorite team’s!
You were one of the bright spots during the tough final stretch of the 2011 season. In fact, you managed to post your personal third highest reception total for a season in just a little over a month played with the Bills last year. What factors played into your ability to do so well so quickly in Chan Gailey’s offense?
I think in general just being a veteran and knowing how to play this game really helped me in Coach Gailey’s offense. We’re able to put 4 or 5 receivers on the field at any given time and it’s hard for a defense to focus on one guy.
You re-signed with the Bills not too long after free agency began. What made you choose to return to Buffalo?
I re-signed because I felt really comfortable with this team and city… and when you’ve got a city like Buffalo showing a lot of love and support, it was a no-brainer to return because we have a lot of unfinished business to handle this season!!!!!!
Your path to the 2006 NFL Draft was chronicled in the documentary “Two Days in April.” What was that experience like? Do you still keep in touch with the three other players that were featured in that documentary?
Filming “Two days in April” was a lot of fun… the experience alone just meeting five other guys that all had the same dream of making it and playing in the NFL was a blessing… I’m still pretty close with those guys and if anyone has seen the film we had a great time together.
Did you have an athlete as a role model growing up, maybe someone you wanted to model your game after?
My favorite athlete growing up was Jerry Rice. Definitely tried to patten my game after him when I was coming up through the high school and collegiate ranks. I’m here now in the NFL and just trying to get better constantly.
Have any veteran or former players given you any advice since joining the NFL and if so, what was it? As a veteran yourself, is there anything you try to pass on to the younger guys?
The main thing I’ve taken from other veterans is don’t take anything for granted!!! I have to earn and work for everything that I want on any given day… Info that I try to pass to younger guys is just to show up to work prepared because this is a grown mans league!!!! Not for boys, lol.
If you could play any other position in any other sport, what would it be?
Baseball was my first sport long before football. I had some game playing shortstop in youth and high school ball… I still could swing that wood. You can definitely catch me at a batting cage still.
When you’re not training for the upcoming season, what are some things you enjoy doing away from the game?
One thing i do like to do is fish, so if there’s any anglers out there that wanna take me out on the lake let me know!!!!
Is there anything you’d like to say to the Bills Mafia to close?
Bills Mafia, appreciate the love. Stay tuned this year cuz its about to go down!!!!!! Buffalo Bills 2012
Follow me on Twitter at @dhagan80!
Thank you very much again for your time, Derek, and best of luck in 2012!