Charlotte linebacker Hogan debuts with brand new team for 2nd time

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 4, 2013 at 10:19 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @SamBlum3 When Mark Hogan walked on the field to represent Charlotte on Saturday for the team’s first game ever, everything around him was new.He was playing for a new team, attending a new school, living in a new city and wearing the jersey of a new football team that had never played a down. His surroundings were far from familiar. Yet, Hogan had done it all before.Though now an outlier, a graduate student playing on an untouched, mint-conditioned team consisting of untested 18- and 19-year-olds, Hogan was once that very same wide-eyed freshman recruit. He had already been the newcomer on a team stacked with them.Before he ever dreamed of playing for Charlotte, Hogan, a linebacker, was the first-ever player that signed to play for Georgia State, a program that competed in its inaugural game in 2010. “I’ve played on a brand-new team before,” Hogan said. “I’ve run into some of the same situations, but this time from a different perspective, from a redshirt senior. I’m looking forward to being the older guy that’s been through it before.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHogan made his presence felt immediately. Less than a minute into Saturday’s game, he intercepted a pass from Campbell’s Brian Hudson and ran it back 32 yards for a touchdown. The feat earned a spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays the next morning.The moment almost felt scripted, but Hogan’s path to Charlotte doesn’t have as much of a storybook feel. After originally committing to play at Brown, Hogan transferred before he ever took the field. Looking to explore a new option, his father Mark Hogan Sr. reached out to Bill Curry, his former head coach at Georgia Tech.Curry was just starting the process of building up a program at Georgia State. He said he’d look at the younger Hogan’s tape, but told the elder to be prepared for bad news. When Curry saw his video, though, he knew Hogan was the real deal.“He’s very aggressive, he’s very feisty, and very tough on the practice field,” Curry said. “He creates sparks every time. He doesn’t take anything from anybody.”Curry said that the process Hogan took at Georgia State mirrors the one his father took as an athlete at Georgia Tech.The elder Hogan walked on to his team in the early 1980s, and eventually earned a scholarship. He helped guide an irrelevant Georgia Tech program to a top-20 ranking.“That was just as arduous and tedious as this one was at Georgia State,” Curry said. “Mark Jr. is very similar to his dad. He never made much noise until he hit somebody. Then the helmet would fly off.”The elder Hogan said he appreciates the leadership mentality that his son has adopted.“I think it’s contagious and I think people feed off of it,” he said. “I don’t think you have to be a big yeller or screamer in order to be a leader. You need to show the way and show how it’s supposed to be done.”The younger Hogan’s output on the field spoke for itself. He was a three-year starter at linebacker for the Panthers, became the program’s all-time leading tackler with 157, including 10.5 for a loss, and in 2011, he snatched a game-winning, double-overtime interception to beat Southern Alabama.After playing one season with the football team, Hogan also started playing baseball for the Panthers. He finished his career there with a .313 average. Curry had always been accommodating of the younger Hogan’s baseball schedule in the spring, often letting him miss some spring practices. But the head coach wasn’t brought back for the 2013 season and the new staff was not OK with Hogan playing baseball at the cost of spring practice.The Charlotte football coaches were more than willing to oblige.“It kind of came out of the blue,” Charlotte linebackers coach Napoleon Sykes said. “He gave us a call and was like, ‘Hey, I’m moving back with my parents, I’d be interested in talking with you.’ He asked if he could just walk on. “And that’s when we find out that he’s the leading tackler in their school history.”So after a three-year tenure at Georgia State, Hogan departed for Charlotte. His parents moved there from the Boston area after he graduated from high school.He expects the onus to be on him to be a leader. He understands the situation may be similar to his years at Georgia State; there are more expectations of him to lead at Charlotte. Sykes said having Hogan around is almost like having another coach.“Our head coach had a meeting the other day and one thing that really stuck with our staff was when (Hogan) came forward and said he remembered how difficult it was to play college football starting out,” Sykes said. “He said, ‘You can’t imagine how hard teams are going to come in here and play. They’re not going to take it easy on you because you’re brand-new.’”The message clearly resonated. The 49ers defeated Campbell 52-7 in their first contest. It was played at home in front of a raucous sold-out crowd of more than 16,000. It’s a first success on an otherwise clean slate as Hogan and Charlotte look to leave a legacy.“We expect to create a standard for the way we want to play,” Hogan said. “It’s really cool because we get to create our own brand. No one has done it before. Most football teams are kind of defined by their past. But we’re going to create that all for ourselves.” Commentslast_img

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