Each month, I will showcase a current Denver Broncos player and inform you of their lives and accomplishments before coming to Denver. In doing so, I hope to shine a light on each players own unique journey on the road to Mile High. This months featured player is linebacker Mario Haggan.
Mario Marcell Haggan was born on March 3, 1980 to Wanda Burnett in Clarksville, Mississippi. He played his high school football at Clarksville High School, where he earned All-American and first-team All-State honors and played in the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Game. He helped lead the Wildcats to the state Class 4A Championship in 1997 and as a senior, Haggan recorded 158 tackles and recovered three fumbles.
Coming out of high school, Haggan decided to stay in his home state and accepted a scholarship to play college football for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Haggan started at linebacker in 1999, a season in which Mississippi State started the season with eight straight wins and earned one of the highest national rankings in school history. During his time as a Bulldog, Haggan earned second-team All-SEC honors in 2000 and 2001 and first-team All-SEC honors in 2002, as well as being named a team captain.
Haggan was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL Draft with the 228th overall pick. As a Bill, Haggan was a top special teams player. He helped Buffalo rank first in the overall NFL special teams ranking in 2004 and 2005 and he posted the seventh-most special teams stops in the league from 2004-06 with 49. In 65 games played in five seasons for the Bills, Haggan recorded 78 total tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
As a free agent, Haggan was picked up by the Broncos in 2008, where in eight games he recorded 19 total tackles and one sack. Haggan finally got his chance to start consistently and show his strengths in 2009 when he was named a starter and a team captain, where in 16 games he recorded 63 total tackles, one sack, and three forced fumbles. Also in 2009, he became the first NFL player in 24 years to start every game in a season after previously playing at least 73 games without a start. Haggan had his best season so far in 2010, earning 87 total tackles, five sacks (including three in one game against the Kansas City Chiefs), two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.
Coming off his best personal NFL season last year, Haggan will look to help improve a Denver Broncos defense that struggled as a whole in 2010. After finally getting the chance to show what he is capable of, Haggan will surely get the attention of new Broncos head coach John Fox, who will use his strengths to improve the defense for 2011.
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