Captain leads tough defense
Liberty Defensive Coordinator Robert Wimberley has coached many players throughout his career. Of all the players that have come in and out of Lynchburg, there have not been many who have impressed Wimberley quite like Flames senior safety Jacob Hagen.
Hagen’s senior season picked up where his award-winning junior year left off, returning a fumble for a touchdown in week one at North Carolina, then forcing a fumble and intercepting a pass against Norfolk State in week two.
As a junior, he led the Big South in interceptions with six, a mark that was good for third in the entire nation. Hagen was named first-team All-Big South and third-team Associated Press Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) All-American.
The Florida native and team captain attributes his success to hard work and consistency.
“I approach every day with the same mentality to come and get better,” Hagen said. “That’s in everything that I do.”
As a team captain this year, Hagen hopes that he can be a positive influence on younger players.
“I hope they see work ethic, coming to work every day and giving all (their) effort,” Hagen said. “You give that effort in everything you do. Everything else will take care of itself.”
Wimberley has worked with Hagen for three years and said that he is a great teaching model for younger players.
“He is like a son to me,” Wimberley said. “He is a great leader and he understands what we are trying to build here defensively. The whole team looks up to him and values every word that comes out of his mouth.”
Hagen’s success and leadership role on the team comes with expectations and responsibilities. Wimberley said that Hagen leads the younger players through film sessions and is a voice of influence on and off the field — and he expects it to stay that way.
“When you have a young man who has been through the fire saying something on the football field, it adds value,” Wimberley said.
Over the past three years, Wimberley said he has noticed certain changes in the safety.
“Coming in his first year, he was still learning and questioning himself, and now he doesn’t question himself,” Wimberley said.
Wimberley said Hagen’s most enduring traits were his consistency and hard work.
“I never have to talk to (Hagen) about going harder,” Wimberley said.
With all of the success that Hagen has had in his Liberty career, there is still a ticket to the playoffs that has not been punched. During his final season, Hagen not only has personal goals, but he also wants to see the Flames finally make it into the FCS playoff field of 24 come postseason.
“I want to be the best player I can be to help the team,” Hagen said.
If Hagan and the Flames continue their strong play, it is a good bet that Hagen’s goals for himself and the team can be accomplished, and maybe even exceeded.