It is highly likely that one of the best quarterbacks in the area will only play a few snaps as a backup, unless an injury occurs. Although he’s heralded as the second best safety in the country in the 2007 recruiting class, Mainland’s Cyrus Fagan may be just as good at the quarterback position.
Toward the end of last season, I was told by another writer that Mainland’s star defender just might be the best quarterback in the area. Because I had occasionally seen him play offense, I laughed off the statement, until I saw him start in the spring game against the University Titans, where he led three touchdown drives that all finished with touchdown passes. He made the position look easy, the way he scrambled past defenders and connected on most of his passes.
What was even more intriguing than his play was when he sailed a pass longer than desired, and his receiver was hit hard and was forced to leave the game. An angered Fagan yelled out, “That’s why I hate playing quarterback!”
While the game didn’t count, I witnessed two teams give a season-game effort, with their best players on the field, and, in the midst of him having his way with a pretty good defense, Fagan proclaimed to everyone his true feelings about the position nearly every football player would love to have the skills to play.
“I have to do it for the team,” said Fagan in an interview, “but, I love defense.”
When he played Pop Warner, his coach saw him throwing the football around with other teammates, and his ball always seemed to go farther than the others, including the quarterback. Realizing he had a potential gem, his coach began to chisel him into a better quarterback, teaching him the ins-and-outs of the position, but he couldn’t change Fagan’s defensive mind; he was raised to play on that side of the ball.
“I’m just not a quarterback,” Fagan said. “I grew up watching Ray Lewis, and I love to hit people like him.”
When Fagan was 11 years old, he made what he considers his first big hit. On punt return as a blocker, Fagan hit a kid with a crack-back block, and there went any aspirations of playing quarterback. He grew a love for giving licks, not taking them.
“At first, I was worried about the kid, but he got up and walked to sideline on his own,” Fagan said. “Then, I celebrated with one of my teammates, and that sparked my love to only play defense.”
It can be said that anyone having the number of recruits would pass up an opportunity to star as a quarterback, but that’s not the way Fagan thinks. He made the statement that, even if he wasn’t highly recruited as a defender, he would still choose defense over the quarterback position.
“When you catch an interception, you’re taking something from the opposing team,” Fagan said, “and, especially if you return it for a touchdown. That’s huge. Throwing a touchdown isn’t easy, but you get used to it, if you do it a lot. Interceptions don’t come easy, especially pick-sixes.” Fagan had five interceptions last year, and he’s still waiting on his first interception return for a touchdown.
Fagan has become one of the best defenders in the nation, and, It doesn’t hurt that he has learned from other great ball defenders, like NFL pro Ricardo Allen, a former Mainland defender. Allen, whom Fagan calls a big brother, taught him a lot and has inspired him to make it to the big leagues.
DID YOU KNOW?
Cyrus Fagan is ranked as the No. 2 (No. 1 in Florida) safety in the country and No. 31 player overall in the 2017 class. The four-star recruit has received offers from over 20 of the best football schools in the nation, including Florida State, Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Florida and USC, to name a few.