BOISE, Idaho — If you follow Javon Hagan on Twitter, you’ll find that his content in the days leading up to the 2019 rendition of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl has had a theme.
Whether it’s been about staying humble or making the most of the opportunity that’s at hand, it’s all been about what’s ahead: the potential of becoming the next Bobcat to find a place in the NFL.
From the hot, muggy days of fall camp to the final practices in Athens before the Potato Bowl, at least half the league’s teams have sent scouts to see what the redshirt senior safety is all about.
“I think about it every night. That next level, that’s the goal,” Hagan said. “Ever since I was a kid, that was the goal ... to play at the professional level.”
He’s looking to become the 10th draft pick under coach Frank Solich, joining Tarell Basham and T.J. Carrie, who both are currently active on NFL rosters. Multiple projections have the redshirt senior safety either being drafted in the late rounds or being signed as an undrafted free agent.
But whether he gets drafted or not, it won’t be by accident nor by luck, but by the body of work that the Jacksonville, Florida, native has put together in his time at Ohio over the last four years.
He hasn’t started in just four games over the span of his career. He had a team-high 99 tackles and was a three-time captain and a four-time all-conference player. The accolades go on and on, and they’re well deserved.
But perhaps what goes unnoticed is not his natural talent on the field, but how the talent has translated from off the field, shaping his game into what it is today.
“I’ve been looking at every game from this past season and looking at what I can correct,” he said.
His self-critique process is a long and arduous one: going through pre-snap reads from a game he’s already played in, rewinding the tape to watch his first steps over and over again, the pursuit angles on tackles and even his position relative to others on the field.
It’s a process that takes him hours, but it’s one that’s gotten him to where he’s been, where he is now and, potentially, to where he’s going to be.
If he had to make his case to land on an NFL roster in any capacity, it would be all 12 games from this season.
He made game-changing plays — a la Kent State and the pass deflection late in the fourth quarter that helped seal the game — and he filled run lanes when he was the last resort defender. His leadership style showed, and with the up-and-down season that the defense had, it would have been worse without Hagan.
“It can be a lot of pressure at times for sure. You have to watch what you’re doing as a leader of the team and of the program,” Hagan said. “They’re looking to see if you’re coming into the weight room five minutes before or one minute before. Are you getting extra film in? Are you answering the questions first in the film room? It’s the little things like that.”
It’s doing those little things that regardless of being drafted or just being signed as a free agent gives him a chance against the better athletes from bigger and more noted programs.
In three days from now, Hagan will put on the Ohio uniform for the last time. In a time of change for the program in the last year, he’s been one of the constants for the Bobcats.
And how he wants to be remembered is fairly simple.
“I’m very energetic when it comes to making plays,” Hagan said. “It’s from where I come from, from Florida, we don’t take anything for granted, so when we make certain plays, that’s why I do the things that I do. It’s a blessing to be out here.”