Pagan committed to Lynch, Hoosier program

Pagan committed to Lynch, Hoosier program

His story is already a unique one in Hoosier football history and he's hoping that it ends much better than it has started. Less than 24 hours after Chicago senior Justin Pagan called the IU staff to tell them he wanted to be a Hoosier, the man he so looked forward to meeting had passed away. But Pagan says he looks forward to helping fulfill Terry Hoeppner's goals at IU.

His story is already a unique one in Hoosier football history and he's hoping that it ends much better than it has started. Less than 24 hours after Chicago senior Justin Pagan called the IU staff to tell them he wanted to be a Hoosier, the man he so looked forward to meeting had passed away.

Terry Hoeppner's death Tuesday morning came as a disheartening surprise to everyone, especially the players that had recently committed to join his program. Pagan says he never got to meet Hoeppner, but the word of mouth about the 59-year old coach was a key reason he committed to IU.

"I heard that he was a great mentor and a real good person to look up to," said Pagan. "He was real down to Earth and you could talk to him easy."

It was a lot for Pagan to digest when the sad news broke Tuesday morning, but he never wavered in his commitment to IU he says. A lot of the credit goes to new Head Coach Bill Lynch. He was the one that spearheaded Pagan's recruitment and when Pagan committed on Monday night he already knew that Lynch would be his leader for the 2007 season.

"They had already told me that Coach Lynch would be taking over for this upcoming year," said Pagan.

Still, Pagan, like the rest of the Hoosiers, hoped that he would be coached by Hoeppner in 2008. He has plenty of confidence in Lynch, though, and is anxious to play for him. He feels like he already has a close relationship with Lynch and appreciates the coach's straightforward style.

"Bill Lynch recruited me and the way he talked wasn't like other coaches," said Pagan. "He didn't just give me the selling points of IU, he gave me the whole truth, the real truth. He didn't try to cover things up."

Lynch's honesty has landed the Hoosiers a 6-foot-5, 285 pound offensive lineman with nimble feet and plenty of strength.

"I think they will probably keep me at the position I play now," said Pagan. "I'm a left tackle, but they might move me to the right side I guess. I'm not really sure.

"I have good footwork I feel and I think that's my best trait."

Pagan also had scholarship offers from Wyoming and New Mexico. Schools like Ball State and Bowling Green had shown heavy interest and Purdue was also involved before Pagan pulled the trigger. He felt like IU was the best option and he doesn't think that the unfortunate passing of an IU icon will derail the Hoosier program.

"I think the players will approach this season like it is for him," said Pagan. "I think it will just give them extra motivation at the games."

Pagan has never met Hoeppner, but he says he will feel that same motivation when he starts wearing the cream and crimson.



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