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Updated: March 27th, 2014 7:41pm
With invite in hand, draft anticipation building for Ra'Shede Hageman

With invite in hand, draft anticipation building for Ra'Shede Hageman

by Nate Sandell
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- A little over a month out from the NFL Draft, the anticipation is starting to ramp up for former Minnesota Gophers defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman.

His soon-to-be realized NFL dream became a bit more real on Monday when Hageman, widely projected as a mid to late-first round pick, received an invite to attend the draft on May 8 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

"It didn't really hit me until this morning before my workout," Hageman said about the invite on Tuesday. "It kind of gives you goose bumps, but at the same time it's a great opportunity. It's a once in a lifetime experience, so I'm definitely going to soak that in. It's like Christmas."

Hageman was in Minneapolis only briefly this week, stopping by the University of Minnesota campus to attend one of the Gophers' spring practice sessions.

Three of Hageman's five years with the Gophers were spent under the watch of coach Jerry Kill. Originally recruited as a tight end by former coach Tim Brewster, Hageman's draft stock skyrocketed last season with a solid senior year in which he earned third-team All-America honors.

Kill had Hageman speak with the team after practice. The 6-foot-6, 315-pound defensive lineman is poised to become the first Gophers player selected in the draft's initial round in eight years.

"I walked off the field with my wife and we were talking about Ra'Shede," Kill said. "Nothing makes you more proud than ... to see how that young man has handled himself. It's just tremendous. He is doing a great job."

It's been a busy few weeks of training and visiting with teams since he attended the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Although he declined from giving names, Hageman said he still had few more workouts scheduled with teams before he heads back to Milwaukee, where he has been training with NX Level athletics.

In the final weeks leading up to the draft, Hageman said intends to keep a low profile. But besides keeping up with his training regimen, he has one major item left on his checklist: finding a suit to wear on draft day.

"We're still working on that, man," Hageman replied with a grin. "The suit can wait. I'm still trying to get fit, so that I'll be able to fit in a suit. That's the most important thing. You don't want any buttons to be popping off."

Nate Sandell is a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Nate | @nsandell
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