Draper • Cole Hagen has never had an A-minus grade in his life.
Even since his elementary school days, the Corner Canyon High quarterback has been a 4.0 student. Now a senior, Hagen takes advance placement classes in calculus and English. He makes sure he’s prepared for classes and gets enough sleep. He’s constantly studying and doing homework.
He even scored a 35 on his ACT. A perfect score is 36.
“It’s definitely something that I care a lot about,” Hagen said in regards to his studies.
But Hagen isn’t only a savant in the classroom. He also happens to be one of the best high school quarterbacks in the state, leading the Chargers to an 8-0 record behind 1,926 passing yards and 22 touchdowns.
It’s Hagen’s prowess in both academia and football that’s led to offers from Harvard and Yale, scholarships he’s seriously considering, he said. He also received an offer from Dixie State University.
Hagen’s smarts also make him an elite football player.
“Just intellectually, as far as the Xs and Os, it’s photographic almost with him,” Chargers coach Eric Kjar said. “It’s weird.”
Kjar, who has coached at Corner Canyon since 2017 and holds a 31-1 record in that span, said he’s able to add more wrinkles to his offense because of Hagen’s mental acuity. Senior wide receiver Randen Grimshaw said some of Kjar’s plays have as many as eight different options within them.
While that many options may sound overwhelming, it’s not so for Hagen.
“I think it’s just easier to pick up the playbook,” Grimshaw said. “We have an extensive playbook. It’s complicated and big. I think that his grades definitely help him with that. He’s less stressed about football and then it definitely helps with learning the plays as well.”
ABOUT COLE HAGEN
Offers: Dixie State, Yale and Harvard
Longest pass completion this season: 97 yards
Other sports: Basketball (guard) and track (sprinting events)
247Sports says: Dual-threat quarterback, three-star recruit and No. 25 in Utah
Currently reading: “The Five Kingdoms” series by Brandon Mull
Hagen said his academic efforts help him not only to understand Kjar’s offense and its many moving parts, but also to predict what defenses will do. But he buttresses his natural smarts by being an active student of the game.
In addition to the film study the Chargers do as a team, Hagen watches tape on his own. He said he spends about an hour a week on average watching film, always trying to get an edge on his opponents.
About half the time, Hagen watches film with his younger brother, Cody, a sophomore wide receiver for Corner Canyon. Cody Hagen is also a 4.0 student and claims he’s never so much as gotten an A-minus — just like his brother.
Cody Hagen said his brother’s drive to continue striving for academic greatness — even after their parents stopped incentivizing them to get good grades — seems to be innate.
“It’s just built into him,” Cody Hagen said. “It’s like coded into his brain that he’s always going to be the top of his class, getting the 4.0 and the A and the 100 on everything.”
Hagen said the reason he cares so much about grades is rooted in competitiveness, which he described as “straight-up genetic.” He said he's always “battling" with friends over who got the higher test scores.
Case in point: Cody Hagen hasn’t taken the ACT yet. But when he does, Cole Hagen has been open about how well his brother does.
“Obviously I want him to do good,” Hagen said. “but I hope that maybe he gets a 34.”
Like any star quarterback, Hagen is lauded by his teammates and coach for his leadership skills. Despite the team’s complex playbook, Grimshaw said Hagen has a knack for explaining concepts in an easily digestible way — so much so that Hagen could be a successful teacher one day if he wanted.
But Hagen is also a leader off the field, particularly with academics. Cody Hagen said his main motivation to keep his grades up are his brother.
“I would say for me, my drive is Cole,” Cody Hagen said. “He’s always getting the 4.0. He’s such a good kid and he’s my drive to make me keep trying to get a 4.0.”
Even Hagen’s girlfriend, Makenzie Lawson, who runs cross country at Corner Canyon and is in his AP Calculus class, has been positively influenced by the Chargers quarterback.
“Just by knowing him for so long, I feel like it makes me want to work harder and I have started to really study for my tests so that I can do just as good in the class as he is,” Lawson said. “I feel like him pushing himself so hard makes me want to push myself harder.”
Hagen has helped the Chargers average 39.5 points per game, which ranks seventh in the state. He’s amassed 572 rushing yards and has also helped his receivers tally 1,953 passing yards. And there’s still two games left in the regular season.
While any team’s offense is a complete effort, it’s clear Hagen is at the center of it — especially mentally.
“It’s not just us — everyone’s smart on our offense,” Cody Hagen said. “But it definitely helps that he’s running it.”