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Colts draft Haeg with 155th pick

LAKE SHORE, Minn. -- Joe Haeg was relaxing at his parent's home in Lake Shore Saturday afternoon, playing cards, when his cell phone rang. The display on his phone read "Indianapolis." Haeg took the call and began to smile. On the line was Colts ...

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Brainerd High School grad and NDSU Bison offensive tackle Joe Haeg hugs his sister Laura Haeg after being selected 155 in the 5th Round of the NFL draft Saturday. Joe and his family were at their Lake Shore, Minn., home when the call came (Forum News Service / Steve Kohls)

LAKE SHORE, Minn. -- Joe Haeg was relaxing at his parent's home in Lake Shore Saturday afternoon, playing cards, when his cell phone rang.

The display on his phone read "Indianapolis."

Haeg took the call and began to smile. On the line was Colts head coach Chuck Pagano who was calling to inform the Brainerd High School graduate that Indianapolis had selected him in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, 155th overall.

"Actually they were probably one of the teams most interested in me," Haeg said Saturday. "I had an official meeting with them at the (NFL) Combine. They were the only team that I actually did have a meeting with -- I had unofficial meetings with a lot of teams. I had a great talk with Coach Pagano, their entire staff, the general manager, the owner. I definitely knew they were a team I wanted to play for."

He is believed to be the third Brainerd native drafted by the NFL. Gene Bierhaus was drafted in 1943 by the Green Bay Packers. Jon Jelacic was drafted in 1958 by the Chicago Cardinals.

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Haeg developed into a pro prospect with an All-American career at North Dakota State University. The Bison won four FCS national titles during his 4-year tenure as a starter -- his first two years at left offensive tackle, his junior and senior years at right tackle.

He was a 10-time All-American, was a finalist for the 2015 STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year, was the College Sporting News Offensive Lineman of the Year (twice), was a two-time All-Missouri Valley Football Conference first-team selection, and was named MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week five times.

In January, he was selected to play in the Senior Bowl but did not play in the game due to a shoulder injury. In February, according to nfl.com, Haeg turned in the top performance by an offensive tackle at the NFL Combine in broad jump, 3-cone drill and shuttle run.

Haeg was the third offensive lineman drafted in the first five rounds by the Colts. Their No. 1 pick was Alabama center Ryan Kelly before selecting offensive tackle Le'Raven Clark of Texas Tech in the third round.

"They struggled in (the offensive line) last season so we'll see," Haeg said. "I'm definitely excited. I can't wait to get down there."

The Colts' offseason workout programs began April 18. Organized team activities are scheduled May 17-19, May 24-26 and May 31-June 3. Mandatory minicamp is June 7-9.

Haeg said he leaves Thursday for a rookie mini camp and will fly back May 9 to finish his finals at NDSU. He will graduate with a degree in civil engineering.

Haeg said it was difficult to continue his studies while working out for the draft.

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"At times, I would say the first month or so, I would get behind a lot because I was constantly working out, 10 hours a day," he said. "The last couple months it hasn't been too crazy. I had a couple workouts every week with teams but I was able to catch up pretty decent. I'm excited to graduate on top of all this too."

Depending on what day of the week and which draft source you consulted, Haeg was projected to be picked between the second and fourth rounds. He said waiting until the fifth wasn't agonizing.

"It hasn't been bad at all," he said. "I'm just happy for the opportunities I've been given and I've tried to enjoy it as much as I can. I'm just very happy to find out where I'm going.

"A lot of it depended on how many tackles were taken before me. In the first round, I think there were five taken, Friday I think there were three so that played into it. When it comes down to it, I'm very happy with the Colts. They're one of the teams I definitely wanted to get to. If it meant dropping back a round or two to get in the right situation, I'm all for that."

Haeg believes his athleticism is one of his biggest attributes as he heads to the next level.

"(The Colts) run a lot of zone scheme plays that requires guys to be real athletic," he said. "I think that's something I bring to the table. On top of that, I can work on continuing to develop, getting stronger, making sure I'm coachable, block how they want me to block, get used to the speed of the game."

His journey to become an NFL draft pick is nothing short of incredible. At BHS, he was an all-state tackle who played in state semifinal games his junior and senior years. Tipping the scales at about 235 pounds, he received no interest from Division I colleges. He did have an offer from the University of North Dakota but it was rescinded following a coaching change. So when NDSU invited him to be a preferred walk on, he accepted.

"Honestly it's been a whirlwind," Haeg said. "I would say there were definitely times where I would say 'There's no way I could do that.' My goal was always to make myself better every day, not necessarily for individual goals.

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"In high school, it was not like I wanted to get better so I could be an all-state player and be on (a college) scholarship. I just wanted to get better for my teammates. That's the same idea I had throughout my entire career. I've always been a team guy. I'm just happy to have had the success that I've had."

Joe Haeg

Position: Left offensive tackle

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 304 pounds

NFL: Indianapolis Colts

College: North Dakota State University

High school: Brainerd (2011 graduate)

Hometown: Lake Shore

Parents: Richard and Janet Haeg

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