Former Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Javon Hargrave (79) is now with the Eagles. — Kyle Terada-USA TODAY/AP PHOTO

Former Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Javon Hargrave (79) is now with the Eagles. — Kyle Terada-USA TODAY/AP PHOTO

The Philadelphia Eagles needed some help on the defensive line. The Eagles dipped into the free agent market and came up with nose tackle Javon Hargrave from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hargrave is a rising star in the NFL.

In 2016, he was a third-round pick out of South Carolina State. He played four seasons for the Steelers before landing with the Eagles. South Carolina State head coach Buddy Pough was very significant in Hargrave’s development during his college career. Pough is pleased with what Hargrave has done in the NFL, which has elevated him to a high level. According to reports, Hargrave has reached a three-year deal worth $39 million.

“He deserves everything he’s gotten,” Pough said. “He has worked hard and continues to handle his business and all that kind of stuff. I’m excited for him. I’m happy for him. He’s the highest paid inside guy that’s for sure. He has shown himself to be one of the those inside guys who can do the inside stuff. He can rush the passer. The fact that he’s a little bit of a two-dimensional player as opposed to just being a run stopper makes him more valuable to a team.”

Hargrave will play up front with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, which is huge for the Eagles. But the attention Hargrave has brought to South Carolina State, an FCS school and a Historically Black College and University from Orangeburg, S.C. that plays in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference is big, too.

Hargrave, 27, was a terrific player for the Bulldogs. In 2015, he had 59 total and 45 solo tackles along with 13.5 sacks. He received All-American honors for his efforts.

Hargrave, a 6-foot-2, 305-pounder, made a huge impact as a rookie. He helped the Steelers get to the AFC championship game. Hargrave has continued to establish himself as a great defensive player each year. Last season, he had 60 total and 35 solo tackles and four sacks.

Pough has coached a number of great players at South Carolina State including linebacker Darius Leonard, a two-time Pro Bowler and 2019 AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year. Hargrave is another player who brought a lot of potential to South Carolina State. He remembers him going all the way back to his freshman year.

“He was always quick,” Pough said. “He had a quick burst when he came off the ball. A lot of defensive linemen are just kind of big flubber guys. He’s big enough guy that he can do the big stuff that bigger guys can do. He’s been that from the very beginning.”

In a few months, Hargrave will be able to display all these skills with the Eagles.

dhunt@phillytrib.com (215) 893-5719

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