New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan dropped a Penn State lacrosse reference in pre-game intros on "Sunday Night Football" in November.

'Chris Hogan, Penn State Lacrosse'

“Sunday Night Football” took on a new meaning for lacrosse fans Nov. 13, when the New England Patriots hosted the Seattle Seahawks. Members of the Patriots' starting offense gave their personal intros, stating their name and college.

Toward the end of the lineup, Chris Hogan threw a curveball: “Chris Hogan, Penn State lacrosse.”

Hogan, the former Nittany Lions star turned NFL wide receiver, generated buzz around the lacrosse community with that comment. And it’s not the first time he’s done so, after a career that saw him score 57 goals in three seasons at Penn State. A high ankle sprain cut short his sophomore season, which allowed him to use a redshirt year to play football at Monmouth, which paved his path to the NFL.

Now, Hogan plays for coach Bill Belichick, a huge lacrosse fan himself, and the New England Patriots.

What brought you to lacrosse?

Form the beginning, I was a baseball player. I ended up hurting my shoulder and needed something to do in the spring. My dad played lacrosse, so I ended up an old stick in the garage that I picked up one day. I had a bunch of friends that played on the local team when we were in the eighth grade, when I hurt my shoulder. I started tagging along with them to go throw it around and eventually, we started to pick it up more and more. My first time playing real lacrosse was my freshman year of high school.

Why did you choose Penn State?

I was getting recruited for lacrosse and football. Lacrosse was, at the time, considered my main sport. I had a lot of options where I could go, and I visited a couple schools, but I ended up going to Penn State. My visit there was really great, and I enjoyed the atmosphere there, which is just unbelievable. You get taken to a football game, and it's like a no-brainer. It's pretty electric going there and seeing that. They were an up-and-coming program, and I thought it would be fun to be part of that. Academics-wise, they were a great school.

How did lacrosse help you become a better football player?

When I got to Penn State, I played all four years, besides the year I got hurt. College lacrosse is very physically demanding. I was midfielder so I was always running up and down the field taking hits, giving out hits. People always ask me how the transition was from lacrosse to football and I tell them it was pretty easy. The physical aspects of both the sport were pretty similar. Eye-hand coordination, getting away from somebody. The only difference in terms of the Xs and Os was memorizing a playbook as opposed to certain sets we ran in lacrosse.


Hogan scored 57 goals in three seasons at Penn State.

Have you had any conversations with Coach Belichick about lacrosse?

When I first came here, we talked a little bit about lacrosse. He loves the sport, and I still love the sport, so it's fun every now and then to talk about it during springtime. We would talk about the final four or the NCAA tournament. Penn State and Hopkins are in the Big Ten together, and Rutgers is as well. His son [Patriots safeties coach Steve Belichick] is here, and I played against him at Rutgers. We have a little rivalry here in the building, so it's definitely fun. There's a couple of sticks in the weight room that I've picked up here and there. It's great to go back and watch the sport that I played so much during my lacrosse years.

How did you decide to reference Penn State lacrosse on "Sunday Night Football?"

It was a fun thing for me. People don't really know my background, and some people do. It's like, "Oh, I didn't know you played four years of lacrosse. I would have thought you played four years of football. Where'd you play?" By the time I say, "No, I went to Penn State and played four years of lacrosse," they think that's such a cool story. I thought it was a cool opportunity to just give a shoutout to where I started. I graduated from Penn State. It was at Penn State that I decided to graduate and go on to football. If I could shout out both schools, Monmouth and Penn State, I would have done that.

In our November issue, Coach Belichick assigned lacrosse positions to Tom Brady (goalie) and Rob Gronkowski (attackman). What do you think?

I would probably say about the same. I like that analysis. I think Tom would definitely ... I could see him being in the cage. I don't know if he'd like that. Gronk, you could put wherever and he would be dominant. You could put him at midfield, attack and he'd be unstoppable. I remember playing against a guy who's also in the league, [former Notre Dame and Maryland lacrosse player] Will Yeatman, that type of guy that literally just ran through everybody. You can't stop them.

How are you staying connected with the lacrosse world?

Working with the Thompson Brothers is a unique experience for me. There's such a crossover from lacrosse to football, and I think a lot of people that played lacrosse played football. There's an opportunity to be involved in both sports, so I can be the guy who did both. Hoepfully I can help that brand grow as much as I can. Working with the Headstrong Foundation is also awesome. I got involved with that through playing lacrosse. I played in one of the Headstrong tournaments that they had in college and the Collelouri family, I met them through a friend of a friend who does a lot of PR for the business. It's a really cool opportunity for me to expand that brand into the NFL and to shed a little light on their journey and what they're trying to accomplish.

Is there any pro lacrosse in your future?

A lot of people said I should just do it, because then I would have played two professional sports. I don't know. I'm going to keep playing football for as long as I can. If my body can hold up to it, maybe I'll give it a go.

What has lacrosse given you?

Lacrosse has given me so much. The relationships that I've made in lacrosse, I've made some forever friends. I have friends all over the country, in the military, and the kids I went to school with are still my best friends today. It gave me an opportunity to go to college. Some of my biggest mentors, people I look up to, were in the lacrosse world. From Bob Turco, who was my coach at Tri-State Lacrosse, they just helped me get to where I wanted to get to. The stuff that I learned in lacrosse has just helped me continue this path to where I am. I've had a couple of stops to get to where I'm at today, and without lacrosse and the stuff I learned in the sport, I don't think I'd be able to do what I'm doing today.