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Steelers All 90: Darius Hagans Brings Size To RB Room

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Steelers Darius Hagans

With only three running backs likely to make the Pittsburgh Steelers’ final 53-man roster, Darius Hagans faces a steep climb to beat out the guys in front of him. Of the three open spots, two of them will go to Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren respectively. As for the third spot, well the battle between Hagans, Alonzo Graham, Jason Huntley, and Anthony McFarland Jr. is just heating up.

Out of the bunch, Hagans definitely has the best size and frame to be a bruising type of running back. He stands at a respectable 5-foot-11, 207 pounds. The other three competitors are all smaller, shiftier running backs with the biggest two being Graham and Huntley as they stand at 5-foot-9, 195 pounds each.

While 5-foot-11 is not huge, Hagans was not always the biggest kid on the playground. The benefit for Hagans is that size can play in the NFL and he knows that. Although, he acknowledged that his size is nothing compared to a running back like his teammate Harris.

“I had a growth spurt in my freshman or sophomore year of high school so middle school I was not the bigger guy,” said Hagans. “I would consider myself as a decent size for a running back but then I see Najee [Harris] and he is a beast.”

To come out of Virginia State, a school that does produce many NFL players, Hagans had to be special in his collegiate career. In his senior year in college, Hagans rushed for 1,012 yards on 156 carries and six touchdowns. Additionally, he rushed for 100-plus yards in four separate games including a 261-yard performance.

As far as what Hagans sees as his own strengths, he stated that he feels like he is a complete running back that can bring versatility to an offense. As most guys do, Hagans has confidence in his own game but he will have to prove those words in training camp.

“I have great ability to catch the ball, very comfortable pass blocking, got good movement,” Hagans said. “I feel like I am a very versatile back and I feel like I could be a threat in the pass game, the pass blocking, all of those types of things.”

With Graham’s size advantage, he will probably fare best out of the group of other competitors on the special teams phase of the game. Graham stated that he has experience on special teams and that would not phase him if he needed to play that type of role for the team.

Benny Snell Jr. was the team’s third running back last season but received minimal rushes. Where he made his impact was on special teams and even was a reliable tackler. That is a role that the third running back will have to fill.

“I actually played special team all throughout [me] playing football so it’s nothing new to me,” Hagans said.

Regardless, making an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent is always an outside shot but if Hagans can prove that his size and ability can benefit the special teams unit, then he should have a greater shot than many would think.

25 • Darius Hagans, Running Back, Virginia State
5-foot-11, 207 pounds, 24 years old, 1st Season

Acquired: The Steelers signed Hagans as an undrafted free agent following the 2023 NFL Draft.

Last Season: As a senior, Hagans appeared in 10 games for the Trojans. He accumulated a career-high 189 carries for 1,012 yards and six rushing touchdowns. Additionally, Hagans caught 17 passes for 135 receiving yards in 2022.

In a game against Bluefield State last season, Hagans rushed for a career-high 261 yards on 21 rushing attempts. He totaled four 100-yard games (261, 153, 116, 111) in 2022 and missed out on a fifth by a single yard.

Following the season, Hagans earned a first-team All-CIAA selection as he ranked second in the conference in carries, rushing yards, and rushing yards per game (101.2).

Steelers RB Darius Hagans

Virginia State running back Darius Hagans carries the ball.

CollegeHagans committed to play his college football at Virginia State University in 2019. As a freshman, Hagans appeared in 10 games for the Trojans. He totaled 123 carries for 566 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. He also added five receptions for 114 yards and two receiving yards.

Hagans did not play in the 2020 season due to COVID canceling Virginia State’s football season.

In 2021, Hagans played in nine games for the Trojans and logged 108 carries for 491 yards and three touchdowns. Through the air, Hagans hauled in nine receptions for a career-high 179 yards and three touchdowns.

Over his three playing seasons at Virginia State, Hagans appeared in 29 games for the Trojans. He totaled 420 rushes for 2,069 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. In addition, Hagans caught 31 passes for 428 yards and five receiving touchdowns. He ended his Trojan career with 22 total scores.

Following his career at Virginia State, Hagans played in the 2023 HBCU Legacy Bowl Game and participated in the 2023 HBCU Combine that was set up to help further the HBCU players’ reach and publicity.

Year GP Carries Rush Yards Rush TDs Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs
2019 10 123 566 8 5 114 2
2020 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2021 9 108 491 3 9 179 3
2022 10 189 1,012 6 17 135 0

Salary cap and future: The Steelers signed Hagans as an undrafted free agent and his current contract ties him to the team through the end of the 2023 season. If Hagans makes the Steelers’ final 53-man roster, he will cost $750,000 against the team’s cap space.

The Steelers could waive him and not incur any dead money in 2023 if they chose to do so. He will be an exclusive rights free agent following this season.

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