Super Bowl notebook: Chris Hogan’s road to the NFL began with a transition from lacrosse
Chris Hogan’s road to the Super Bowl did not begin until he retired his lacrosse stick.
The New England Patriots receiver played lacrosse at Penn State before transferring and playing football at Monmouth, a Football Championship Division school in his home state of New Jersey.
The agility, hand-eye coordination and physical style required to play high-level lacrosse helped him in his return to football, which he had not played since high school.
“Really, just being able to beat the man in front of you translates directly to playing receiver,” Hogan said.
Hogan, 28, starred in the Patriots’ AFC title game victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he could play a key role Sunday when they play the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium.
“Around here we like that kind of stuff,” star receiver Julian Edelman said when asked about Hogan’s transition from lacrosse to football and the NFL. “Nothing is really given to you. You have to go out and earn everything.
“He has done that.”
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Hogan was recruited by a few Division I colleges to play football but opted instead to pursue lacrosse. At Penn State, he scored 57 goals as a midfielder before deciding to use a final of year eligibility to return to football.
He played both ways at Monmouth, catching 12 passes as a receiver and intercepting three passes as a defensive back.
“It got the ball rolling,” he said.
The San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants and Miami Dolphins all signed and cut Hogan before he signed and stuck with the Buffalo Bills.
“I wasn’t really expecting much — it wasn’t like I thought I was going to be a starting receiver at that point in my career,” he said. “But I thought I had a good enough camp to where I could make the practice squad.
“This is the way the NFL is…. You’re on the practice squad and things move around really quickly. It was a good opportunity for me and I learned a lot from it.”
Hogan was promoted to the Bills’ roster and played three seasons before signing a three-year, $12-million contract with the Patriots in March.
He joined a receiving corps that included Edelman and Danny Amendola, and caught 38 passes for 680 yards during the regular season.
Hogan’s profile grew exponentially two weeks ago when he caught nine passes, including two for touchdowns, and amassed 180 yards receiving in the Patriots’ 36-17 victory over the Steelers.
“He has been spectacular for us,” quarterback Tom Brady said, adding, “Hopefully, he can have another huge game. That would be great for all of us.”
“I didn’t really have a Plan B.” he said of his career journey. “My Plan B was work harder and try to make it in the NFL.
“I put everything I had into making it in this league and that’s why I’m here.”
Hall of Fame vote
The selection of the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame class will be completed Saturday.
Eighteen former players, coaches and contributors are finalists who will be considered by a panel that includes 46 media members and Hall of Famers Dan Fouts and James Lofton.
The players under consideration: kicker Morten Andersen; offensive tackle Tony Boselli; receiver Isaac Bruce; running back Terrell Davis; safety Brian Dawkins; guard Alan Faneca; offensive tackle Joe Jacoby; cornerback Ty Law; safety John Lynch; center Kevin Mawae; receiver Terrell Owens; defensive end Jason Taylor; running back LaDainian Tomlinson and quarterback Kurt Warner.
Former St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers coach Don Coryell, senior candidate Kenny Easley, the UCLA star who played safety for the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue also are finalists.
The Hall of Fame class will be introduced Saturday night during the “NFL Honors” show.
Winners of Associated Press awards for most valuable player, offensive and defensive players of the year, offensive and defensive rookies of the year, comeback player of the year and coach of the year also will be announced during the show.
An Atlanta Falcons receiving corps that includes Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel does not drop many passes.
If one of them does mishandle a ball, he immediately drops to the turf and does 10 push-ups.
“We kind of like push perfection,” Gabriel said, adding, “That’s just something that we keep the standard around here and we push perfection with everything we do.”
According to a report from the Patriots’ final practice, players for the third day in a row sang to a teammate celebrating a birthday.
Running back James White was serenaded Friday. Defensive tackle Malcolm Brown had received similar treatment Thursday, linebacker Rob Ninkovich on Wednesday.
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick noted the consecutive birthdays.
“Must have been something going on nine months ago, in those years,” Belichick told pool reporter Jarret Bell.
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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