As in football as in life, there are many different paths to the top. In the case of Chris Hogan, his journey to the Super Bowl down in Houston, is as unique as any.
Hogan, a former Penn State LAX—men’s lacrosse—player and undrafted free agent wide receiver, has been nothing short of a complete for the AFC champion New England Patriots and their passing game as a reliable deep threat and complimentary weapon across from New England’s all-purpose wideout in Julian Edelman.
At 6’1 and 210 pounds, the former Penn State star and Monmouth graduate is ready for his close-up.
Born and raised in Wyckoff, New Jersey, Hogan starred at New Jersey powerhouse, Ramapo in both football as a wide receiver and in men’s lacrosse as an All-American lacrosse midfielder. While in State College, Hogan led the Nittany Lions with 29 goals during his junior year in 2009. After graduating from Penn State in 2010, he transferred to Monmouth to use his final year of eligibility, where he played both cornerback and wideout, per PennLive’s Aaron Kasinitz.
After going undrafted, Hogan earned a training camp tryout with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, before getting cut and signing with the Miami Dolphins in 2012—and earning the moniker of “7-11” due to his ability to always be open—before getting cut again before landing with the Buffalo Bills.
After a so-so year in 2013, Hogan would breakout in catching 41 passes for 426 yards and four touchdowns in 2014, and 36 catches for 450 yards and two touchdowns in 2015.
Then, his life would completely change in 2016, thank to the New England Patriots.
A restricted free agent of the Bills, New England offered Hogan a three-year, $12 million offer sheet. Due to Buffalo not being able to match it, Hogan landed with the Patriots, and it has been a blessing for both parties, as Hogan would notch career highs in yards receiving (680) and tie his career best in receiving touchdowns with four.
In the playoffs, Hogan would truly emerge as a star in catching four passes for 95 yards in New England’s 34-16 Divisional Round win over the Houston Texans and single-handily torching the Pittsburgh Steelers to the tune of 180 yards and two touchdowns during the Patriots 36-17 AFC Championship Game victory.
Sixty minutes away from a Super Bowl ring, Hogan’s unlikely journey from a being a former lacrosse star has taken him from his hometown of Wyckoff to Happy Valley back to his home state of New Jersey in West Long Branch, San Francisco, Miami, Buffalo, Foxboro to now deep in the heart of Texas in Houston vs. the NFC champion Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
Pats uber-fan Mark Wahlberg couldn’t write and star in a better rags-to-riches Hollywood story. If there is ever a more inspirational story of a unlikely Super Bowl hero, Hogan is just getting started in writing it.