By Robin Lalisse and Billy Bonneau
At a press conference last Tuesday, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett revealed the nickname of third-year receiver Chris Hogan.
“We call him 7-11,” said Hackett. “He’s always open. He’s done a really good job. He’s one of those guys, from a quarterbacks standpoint, you know right where he’s going to be. He runs very good routes. He made some great plays today. He’s a guy that definitely opens your eyes. You want him out there. The quarterbacks love when he’s out there.”
For Hogan, however, it was a nickname that he had earned with one of the Bills division rivals. He was featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks last training camp with the Miami Dolphins, where then-Dolphins running back Reggie Bush called Hogan 7/11 because he was open 24 hours (video quality isn’t great):
Hogan has had a unique and varied athletic past, as the Democrat and Chronicle’s Sal Maiorana detailed last Thursday:
Hogan played high school football and was an accomplished wide receiver who earned all-state honors twice, setting a Ramapo (N.J.) High School record for career receptions. He was also a baseball pitcher, but after blowing out his pitching arm (left) — “Throwing too many curveballs, and doing it the wrong way, probably,” he said — Hogan switched spring sports and took up lacrosse in his sophomore year.
His dad, James, had played lacrosse back in the day, and he helped his son with some of the fundamentals and the newbie proved to be a quick study. By the time Hogan was a senior in 2006 he was named New Jersey’s Midfielder of the Year, and he was an Under Armour All-American.
There were offers from several schools including Connecticut and Rutgers to play football, but he decided to play lacrosse at Penn State.
“It was a tough decision and I went with lacrosse and stuck with it,” said Hogan.
Hogan was a solid middie for the Nittany Lions, earning first-team all-ECAC honors one year, all-CAA honors another, and he finished with 57 career goals. Having lost his sophomore season to an injury, he had one year of NCAA eligibility left, and he decided to leave Penn State so that he could use it to play football.
Although he enjoyed lacrosse, there were regrets and he said, “If I could go back four years, I would have absolutely played football.”
He wanted to play for Doug Marrone at Syracuse, but he couldn’t get into the Newhouse School of Public Communications, so he headed home to New Jersey to play for Monmouth University in 2010. He played both sides of the ball as a receiver and a safety — he caught three TD passes and intercepted three passes — which, along with a 4.47-second clocking in the 40-yard dash got him some looks from pro scouts.
Hogan, listed at 6’1”, 220, has been a standout in camp, so much so that he has been predicted to make the 53 man roster by WGR 550′s Joe Buscaglia. As Doug Marrone was almost able to coach Hogan at Syracuse, he has been very impressed by the young receiver.
“He has been very consistent for us,” said Marrone. “A big thing about it is availability, and he’s been available all the time. And he’s gotten better, he’s progressed. He’s had a very good camp, and again, it’s one of those things where he’s right there in the mix, playing well, playing hard to make this roster and that’s what you want to see.”
Hogan, 24, has become another potential young contributor to a blossoming before our eyes group of receivers. He was able to talk to us about his nickname, athletic past, the Hard Knocks experience, playing for Doug Marrone, and more:
Robin Lalisse: Teammates have nicknamed you 7/11 because you are always open, and fans have said it a few times. How do you feel about getting a nickname like that, and how have you earned it?
Chris Hogan: “Being a receiver, it’s a nice compliment, people calling you 7/11 because you are always getting open on the field. It’s a funny nickname and it came from the Hard Knocks last year when I was in Miami. I kind of ran with it, and it’s stuck with me ever since.”
RL: You have a background in baseball in high school, and played Lacrosse at Penn State before ending up playing at Monmouth University in 2010 as both a receiver and safety. What do you take out of that varied athletic past to help you now?
CH: “I’m able to adapt. I only played a year of football. I was kind of able to make the change fairly quickly going from playing Lacrosse for four years and then jumping right into football. Being an athlete and using my athleticism, jumping from lacrosse to football, has definitely helped me.”
RL: You were featured on last year’s Hard Knocks with the Dolphins. How has that affected your life, both personally and professionally?
CH: “Personally, it’s just something that I’ll always have forever. Something that I worked for and that was just a neat thing to happen on Hard Knocks and it was cool to be featured on that. As an athlete, it obviously helped me and got my name out there moving forward after I was released from the Dolphins. Everywhere I went, people knew who I was.”
RL: You did try to play for Doug Marrone when he was at Syracuse. When he took the job here, did you believe that maybe this was the best place for you?
CH: “Yeah. I was excited about all the new coaches and the new changes that they were making. I knew it was going to be an up-tempo, fast-paced offense, something I also was excited about that I thrived in also in Miami and did very well there. When (Marrone) came here and all the new coaches came here, I was pretty excited about it.”
RL: Who do you compare yourself to as a receiver, current or former in the league?
CH: “I like to watch all those guys that play in the slot. I watch Wes Welker and try to mimic some of the things that he does, and also Davone Bess. I also try to mimic a bigger guy on the outside like Brandon Marshall and try to do some of the things that he does on the field.”
RL: Is there an undrafted guy at your position that you use as someone to believe in the possibility of being successful in this league?
CH: “Yeah, absolutely. I know Davone (Bess) personally. I don’t know Wes Welker, but I know they both have a tremendous work ethic and got to where they needed to be by working hard and that’s something that I’m trying to do as well.”
RL: How have you enjoyed camp at St. John Fisher college so far?
CH: It’s been great. The facilities are awesome. The dorms are great. The food is tremendous; that’s something that definitely helps you get through camp a little easier, and it’s been pretty cool.”
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