Transcript: Ra’Shede Hageman Conference Call

On being selected by the team who we he played for in the Senior Bowl:
“The fact that they coached me in the Senior Bowl gave us good chemistry from the start. I’m amazed, blessed and happy to be in this opportunity. The fact that the Falcons selected me to play for them makes me super excited.”

On having meeting and workouts with Coach Cox: 

“We had workouts with Coach Cox, regular workouts prior to the Senior Bowl. Obviously, he definitely gave us tips on the future and what to work on. I felt like me and him kind of connected and bonded just based off the Senior Bowl.”

On being listed as a defensive end: 

“The fact that Coach (Jerry) Kill, my college coach threw me in there when I was playing at Minnesota. They had me playing D-End, so if that’s what they want me to do I’m going to take that advantage and play defensive end.”

On being switched from Tight End to Defensive End in college: 

“Well, it was my redshirt freshman year they moved me to defensive end. Ever since I was on campus for the fall camp they moved me to D-End and I’ve been taking reps ever since then.”

On whether the switch to defensive end was the plan of the coaches when he was recruited: 

“Well no. I was recruited as a tight end, but I came in at 280 lbs. I felt like tight end really wasn’t for me, so Tim Brewster made the smart decision to move me to D-End and I had no problem doing that.”

On his 35 inch vertical: 

“Basketball is my first love. If I had the proper shoes on I’d show you right now.”

On there being a huge sense of relief after being drafted: 

“I wasn’t going to comment on that, but at the end of the day I’m just glad to get an opportunity to play football. I didn’t care when and where I was going to get drafted, as long as I’m playing professional football. I felt like that was my main goal. The fact that I have a chance and the Falcons chose me. They obviously have a lot of trust in me and I’m just happy to get that chance to play football.”

On what Coach Cox told him about refining certain elements of his game: 

“He told me the difference between college and NFL football on the coaching and teaching. I definitely learned a lot from Coach Cox because he played at the professional level, and it’s easier for me to understand because he played my position, or he played professional football. It was definitely a big step from college teaching to the NFL teachings. It’s a lot more serious. It’s a lot more important.

On what he says to his critics that believes he takes plays off:
“They have an opinion and they can say what they want, but I feel like it takes a man to obviously speak about his flaws. At the end of the day they’re not permanent and I have obviously have time to change them, and as soon as I get comfortable, get the proper teaching, I’ll be fine.”

On Big 10 play: 

“In the Big 10 everybody’s big and everybody’s athletic. I’m not as sure about the SEC, but at the end I’m definitely taking double-teams and triple teams every snap. I feel like you have to be a dog when you’re in the trenches.”

On what he wants to focus on trying to improve when he arrives:

“My flexibility and me just soaking in all the aspects of the game.  I graduated college.  College is over with.  Now I can focus on all football that is what I want to do.  I just want to master the craft and use that to my advantage.  Just the fact that I have this opportunity and I’m going to take advantage of it.”

On his background:

“I was in foster care for about eight to nine years, and I was finally adopted when I was nine by Eric and Jen, my parents.  They put me in sports and ever since then I’ve used football and basketball as an outlet.  The city I was from you either go this way or that way and I just kept positive and used football to my advantage and got where I am because of that.”

On coming to a team that has you in a position of need:

“I’m ready, I wouldn’t say I’m ready yet, but I will take that challenge.  I’m ready to take on that.  Obviously, with the good coaching staff they have, I’m in good hands.  I’m looking forward to it.”

On where his strength came from:

“Being in foster care I used to lift when I was younger.  I started lifting when I was like eight or nine, not really knowing what I was doing, and then I started taking that more serious.  A lot of my boys in high school just used to rep out the bench press and I started always having that be apart of my workout.  I feel like if you want to prevent injury and you want to be elite, it starts in the weight room and that has always stuck to me and I’ve always taken advantage of that.”

On looking up to JJ Watt and Ndamukong Suh and what traits he hopes to grab from their game:

Ndamukong Suh is explosive and he has that attitude that I definitely can relate too.  JJ Watt has that athleticism and quick feet and he knows how to get by people.  You put that together, that is what I am trying to be like, a combination of both of those.”

On his vertical ability being able to help him:

“Yes, most definitely.  My junior year of college I definitely got more sacks.  Last year I had to find another way to make plays.  I’m definitely going to use my vertical advantage to swat down balls.”

On playing at TCF Bank Stadium this coming season:

“It finally just hit me that you said that.  The Minnesota fans they’re either going to boo me or cheer for me.  I’m definitely looking forward to it.  It’s going to be exciting to see my family and friends watch me play.  Words can’t describe that feeling.”

 On just focusing on being an Atlanta Falcon and being in the NFL:

“College is over.  No more late night studying and all that.  No more worrying about where I’m getting drafted and now I can focus on the thing I love to do.  I feel like to me it’s not a job because it is something I love to do and I feel like I put everything into it.  Now you know you’re going to play at the NFL level where it is a business, but at the end of the day, me being motivated is because I love this sport and I’m so good at it and I know I have a lot more potential to give to it, so why not just run with it.”