Eugene, Ore. -- Hagan Stephenson was one of Marist's best players as only a sophomore in 2018. As a junior, he hopes to do more.
Armed with the experience of a lot of snaps and the knowledge imparted to him by a former Spartan star, he's ready to take the next step.
"I know he sees himself as those little dogs that don't know they're little," jokes Marist head football coach Frank Geske. "He's barking the big guys and man, he's come up on some people that outweigh him by 50-60 pounds and he's stuck 'em."
It's not about the size of the dog in the fight but about the size of the fight in the dog. Cliche? Sure, but apt when describing marist wide receiver Hagan Stephenson.
"I'm not big," says Stephenson. "I'm not tall and people kinda underestimate me and all that."
His coach, Frank Geske noticed that edge to him, even from a young age, when he was growing up idolizing the likes of Michael Floyd and Jimmy Clausen.
"Well, I liked him when he was a youth football player, it was one of the only marist teams we had playing youth football," Geske remembers. "Just because of his drive, he's an electric kid."
"Grandpa is from Ireland and so my grandma loved watching Notre Dame so it got passed down to uncle and our family and so my uncle is a huge Notre Dame fan," jokes Stephenson. "So i kinda learned from him even though my mom was ab ig notre dame fan too so."
As a freshmen, Stephenson got a crash course in that Division I realm by watching the recruitment of star quarterback Reow Jackson.
"I got to witness Wyoming coaches coming in, D1 guys coming in, which is awesome to see and just being around Reow and his work ethic was awesome and kind of made me better as aplayer just as a freshman," Stephenson recalls.
And the two still talk even now which combined with game experience has molded him into the leader he is now.
"I'm not the kind of scream guy," says Stephenson. "Get in your face type but when things are getting bad I think I'm the guy that can step up and say something."
As just a junior...Coach Geske believes he's player of the year material in 4A...a prediction that may come true come the end of the season.