Breckyn Hager apologizes following targeting comments

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Sophomore linebacker Breckyn Hager pursues the football in a loss to the Cowboys on Oct. 1, 2016. The defense surrendered more than 40 points for the third time this season.

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

Defensive end Breckyn Hager caused quite the stir on Monday during his meeting with the media. The sophomore responded to a question regarding his mentality going into Saturday’s matchup with Texas Tech by stating his goal was to target Red Raider quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“I’d say [my mentality is to] injure that quarterback,” Hager said. “That’s the mentality right now. We got to take him out. We know he’s banged up, and we just got to get after him.”

Hager’s comments weren’t the first time the Longhorns have noted injuring the junior quarterback. Former Texas safety Quandre Diggs knocked Mahomes out of the Longhorns’ matchup with Tech in 2014 via a head-to-head hit and the two proceeded to engage in a minor spat over Twitter a year later.

But unlike Diggs, Hager has stepped away from his comments, releasing a statement through Texas Athletics about four hours after his initial comments.

“I want to apologize for what I said earlier today at our press conference,” Hager said. “When I go out there, I want to play my most aggressive game, but I’m not trying to do anything to physically injure someone. I have too much respect for Patrick Mahomes and every quarterback I play against to ever do that.”

Head coach Charlie Strong echoed Hager’s sentiments in a statement also released via Texas Athletics.

“I want to make one thing clear – we never walk into a game wanting to injure someone,” Strong said. “We would never coach that way, and that’s not how our team plays. We respect the game too much, we respect other players, we respect how hard they’ve worked to get in the position they’re in, so that’s not our character.”

Hager has made 26 tackles in eight games this year and has accumulated five sacks. He is still slated to play against the Red Raiders in Lubbock on Saturday.