Byline: Jennifer Toland
WORCESTER - Last year, Assumption defensive end Nick Haag saw his former Holy Name High teammate Emil Igwenagu sign with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent and eventually make it onto Philadelphia's active roster. He also saw old Northeast-10 Conference opponent Shawn Loiseau, the former Merrimack linebacker from Shrewsbury, go to camp with the Texans and later land a spot on the Colts' practice squad.
Not that Haag needed any extra motivation, but watching his friends seize their professional opportunities has made Haag even hungrier for his.
"Seeing Emil, seeing Shawn," Haag said, "is real inspiring. It makes you work that much harder. If you put everything forward, no matter where you play or where you're at, they'll find you. It gives you that real-life feeling."
Haag, his family and closest friends will gather at his home today in Grafton for the final four rounds of the NFL Draft. Haag is hopeful - very hopeful - that he'll be getting a call from at least one of the league's 32 teams by the time the day is done.
Earlier this month, Haag worked out for the Patriots, Falcons and Chiefs at Merrimack's pro day. In March, he was among 300 participants in an NFL Regional Combine at the Jets' training facility in Florham Park, N.J.
"I think I'm going to end up somewhere," Haag said. "We'll see how the draft falls, but I'm excited."
Haag led Holy Name to back-to-back Super Bowl titles as the Naps' quarterback. He began his collegiate career at UMass (with Igwenagu) and had a productive redshirt freshman season as a linebacker and special teams player.
After a coaching change at UMass (Kevin Morris replaced Don Brown at the end of the 2009 season), Haag transferred to Assumption to be closer to home.
A three-year starter for the Greyhounds, Haag was a two-time All-Northeast-10 selection and captained AC last season. He led the NE-10 in sacks as a junior, and last year filled the stat sheet with 33 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble, 4 quarterback hurries and a pass breakup.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Haag started drawing some attention from scouts after his junior season. The interest got more serious when he was named MVP of the All-American Bowl in December.
"Nick has always worked hard," said Mike Pucko, Haag's coach at Holy Name. "From the very first day I met him, he's always been so...