From janitor at combine site, Hogan looks to make the NFL

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 1, 2017

By Bob Baum

AP Sports Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — There are no grades for floor mopping or toilet cleaning at the NFL combine.

But Krishawn Hogan has done them both, right there at the Indianapolis Convention Center, which connects with Lucas Oil Stadium, the place draft hopefuls gather each year to try to show they have what it takes to make it on the game’s biggest stage.

Hogan was a long way away from that back in 2013, when he failed in a bid to make it at NCAA Division II Walsh University in Ohio. He came home to Indianapolis, his dream of playing football still flickering, and got a job as a janitor at the convention center, working the midnight to 8 a.m. shift.

During the day, he worked at an inflatable indoor playground.

The NFL was a long way away.

So when Hogan walked into the arena this year, the only player from an NAIA school invited to the combine, he couldn’t help thinking of those hours pushing brooms.

“It was pretty surreal just walking through the buildings,” he said. “I just felt blessed the whole time to be there.”

At Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, Hogan didn’t even play in a game until his senior season. A spindly receiver, he didn’t make much of an impression.

“I think my final stats were 23 catches, maybe 300 yards, one touchdown,” he said.

Needless to say, recruiters did not come running.

Hogan wound up walking on at Walsh University. He lasted one semester before returning home, looking for work to pay off his college debt and make his car payment.

That’s where the janitor job came in. He was no great success at it.

“I lasted about a month,” he said.

Playing football was still Hogan’s dream, and he spoke with the coaches at Marian University, an NAIA school (enrollment 3,100) about four miles northwest of downtown Indianapolis.

“I reached out to them and I just knew it was going to be a good fit,” Hogan said.

It was.

Over three seasons, he caught 263 passes for 4,395 yards and 42 touchdowns.

“My first year we went to the (national) championship and lost,” he said. “My second year we went back to the championship and won. My senior year we were undefeated until we lost in the playoffs.”

He was a very big fish in college football’s smallest pond and was the only player from an NAIA school invited to the combine.

By then he stood 6-foot-3 and weighed a muscular 222 pounds.

There was talk of him being drafted in the late rounds, but that didn’t happen. Instead, several teams called him about signing as an undrafted free agent. Hogan had his sights set on just one: the Arizona Cardinals.

“I worked out for the Cardinals one-on-one during this whole process,” Hogan said, “talked to their guys at the combine. Me and my agent felt like it was a really good fit.”

He was promised nothing but a fair shot.

“Whenever somebody feels like they have a fair chance, they’re going to push that much harder to prove that they deserve that chance,” Hogan said. “That’s what I’m trying to do right now. I’ve got to stack consistency day after day to prove that I belong, though.”

The Arizona wide receiver room is crowded. Of course, there’s Larry Fitzgerald, but also John Brown, Jaron Brown, J.J. Nelson, Aaron Dobson and Brittan Golden. The Cardinals also drafted Chad Williams in the third round out of Grambling.

But coach Bruce Arians likes to unearth gems in out-of-the-way places.

“He (Hogan) is from a small school but he dominated the competition,” Arians said. “He tweaked a hamstring the first weekend but other than that he’s big, strong, physical and can run. It’s a tough room to crack but he’s got a lot of talent.”

There will be plenty of chances in the preseason. The Cardinals have five games, counting the Hall of Fame contest. If he can’t make the Cardinals, maybe he can make an impression for other teams.

And making a practice squad is a strong possibility.

Hogan just wants the opportunity.

“I’m trying to fit in anywhere I can on special teams — gunner, jammer, special protector,” Hogan said. “I want to make it here but if worse comes to worse and I have to look for another spot, I hope my tape can speak for itself and land me another opportunity.”

And leave those mops and brooms in the far corner of some long-ago closet.


For more NFL coverage: