Time and again Sunday night, the guy in the No. 15 New England Patriots jersey made a life miserable for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Few football fans had heard of Chris Hogan before this fall, but many are learning his story, and long, winding road to the Super Bowl. And he’s got a loud and proud rooting section on the Penn State campus.
Not many Division I lacrosse teams can brag they’ve got someone playing in the Super Bowl.
“How awesome is he?!” Nittany Lion women’s coach Missy Doherty exclaimed, practically jumping out of her chair during Penn State’s spring sports media day Monday.
Hogan was one of Sunday’s stars to help get the Pats to their ninth Super Bowl, hauling in nine passes for 180 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“I’m not a Patriot fan, but I’m definitely a Chris Hogan fan,” said men’s coach Jeff Tambroni, whose first season at Penn State was the year after Hogan graduated. “It’s fun to root for him when he scores a touchdown. I know I get excited.”
Tambroni and Nittany Lions players have had the chance to meet Hogan a couple times, and the coach appreciates how much extra attention this gives his sport.
Hogan spent time with four other NFL teams before finally finding his place with the Patriots. He graduated from Penn State in 2010, scoring 57 goals, then played football for a year at Monmouth, and in two weeks he will be facing the Atlanta Falcons in Houston.
“It’s pretty surreal to see him out on the field on such a big stage and just knowing that he was one of us at some point in his life,” said senior defenseman Peter Triolo, a New York Jets fan. “It helps put it in perspective, you can just do anything you set your mind to.”
Both coaches appreciate and are using the lesson of Hogan’s path, how perseverance and dedication can make a dream come true.
Many team members watched Sunday’s game together — a few are proudly wearing No. 15 Patriots jerseys — and they are plotting a Super Bowl party too, hoping he has the same kind of game he had Sunday.
“Every time I turned around, the TV was like, ‘Chris Hogan!’ ” women’s senior defender Erika Spikler said. “It was just so exciting to see.”