Posts tagged ‘NFL’

Chris Hogan’s Journey From Penn State Lacrosse to Super Bowl LI

There’s only one Penn Stater left in the 2017 NFL Playoffs, and he never took a snap for the Nittany Lions on the gridiron. Chris Hogan ’10, who totaled nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns in New England’s 36-17 win over Pittsburgh, played lacrosse for four years in Happy Valley.

An all-conference selection, Hogan scored 57 goals for the Nittany Lions, a run that former Penn State coach Glenn Thiel described as “dominant” when discussing him last year. While he played football in high school, Hogan never suited up for Penn State.

Due to an injury suffered during his sophomore year, Hogan had one year of athletic eligibility remaining after he graduated from Penn State. He wanted to try football, and ended up at Monmouth University in his home state of New Jersey. A two-way player, Hogan accrued 12 catches for 147 yards and three touchdowns as a wide receiver and 28 tackles with three interceptions as a defensive back.

Undrafted in 2011, he bounced around for two seasons, earning stints with the 49ers, Giants, and Dolphins. He was signed to the Bills’ practice squad late in 2012, promoted to the team’s active roster a month later, and spent the next three years playing in every game for Buffalo.

This past offseason, Hogan—aka “7-Eleven,” a nickname he earned in Miami because “he’s always open“—joined the Patriots. He set a career high in receiving yards (680) and starts (14) this year, while also bringing in 38 receptions and four touchdowns.

Hogan broke out in a huge way during Sunday’s conference title game. His 180 receiving yards were a career best and the most in the team’s postseason history. The two touchdowns and nine receptions were also career highs.

During his time with the Bills, Hogan said, “I still feel I have hurdles to clear and ways for me to become a really good slot receiver.” He proved that he is indeed a really good slot receiver on Sunday night, and now, he’s going to play in the Super Bowl. Not bad for a former lacrosse player.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

January 23, 2017 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

John Urschel Heads Back to School

John Urschel does the math for ESPN The Magazine. Photo by Gregg Segal/ESPN.

Photo by Gregg Segal/ESPN.

It’s been a while since we’ve written about John Urschel ’12, ’13g, the former Penn State offensive lineman who doubled as a standout student in mathematics. Urschel’s latest endeavor–when he’s not playing for the Baltimore Ravens–is pursuing his Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT.

Urschel explained his decision to continue his education in a piece for The Players’ Tribune. The truncated version is that his mother wanted him to go to MIT as an undergrad, but Urschel’s desire to attend Penn State won out.

As for managing to stay in shape while also making time for schoolwork, don’t worry: Urschel trains with the school’s football team, which he credits with helping him remember that football should feel like a game instead of a job.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

May 26, 2016 at 10:12 am Leave a comment

Emily Kaplan, NFL Players, and ‘Concussion’

The debate about the role football plays in the manifestation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is getting the Hollywood treatment in the upcoming film Concussion. MMQB staff writer (and former Penn Stater intern) Emily Kaplan ’13 watched an advanced screening of the film with 70 former professional football players. The reaction from the ex-NFLers was powerful. Here is a sampling of what happened:

“It was difficult to watch, but a good difficult,” said Danny Buggs, a Giants and Redskins wideout from 1975 to ’79.

Keith McCants, the fourth overall pick in the 1990 draft, drove six hours from Tampa to see the movie. When he exited the theater, he retreated to a bench in the lobby. Tear-soaked, the 47-year-old former linebacker hovered over his cane. “This touched my soul,” he said. “It was outstanding, but I can’t process it all, not right now. I watch this movie and I know we were paid to hurt people. We were paid to give concussions. If we knew that we were killing people, I would have never put on the jersey.”

Definitely take a few minutes to read the entire story over at The MMQB.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

December 9, 2015 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Dec. 16, 2013

Your Monday sports wrap: The Nittany Lions’ “Return to Rec” game was a huge success in all but the final score, an 81-79 overtime loss Saturday to Princeton. The Tigers clawed back from a 20-point second-half deficit to dampen Penn State’s first game at Rec Hall since 1996. Still, it was a great afternoon for the fans who packed into the old barn—if you weren’t there, you can find a terrific bunch of photos from Mark Selders here. The women’s volleyball team enjoyed a more successful weekend on the road, beating Michigan State and long-time rival Stanford to guarantee a return to the NCAA Final Four. Penn State will face Washington on Thursday in Seattle for a chance to play in the national title game.

I thought the contrast in photos Onward State ran in back-to-back stories on the hoops and volleyball games was worth noting:

MBB WVB

Also in action this weekend: The Lady Lions got back on track after a tough week with a 66-58 win over No. 20 Texas A&M, and the No. 2 wrestling team dominated No. 6 Ohio State, 31-6.

Making their case: At a pretrial hearing Tuesday in Harrisburg, attorneys for Graham Spanier, Tim Curley ’76, ’78g, and Gary Schultz ’71, ’75g will argue that the cases against them should be thrown out. At issue is the role of Cynthia Baldwin ’66, ’74g, the former university counsel, and the question of whether Baldwin was representing them or the university in front of a grand jury in 2010. You can read more here.

“Ready” or not? We knew the rumors were coming, and with Penn State’s football season over, we didn’t have to wait long. CBS Sports writer Jason La Canfora reported Sunday that, “according to pro and college sources,” Bill O’Brien is “ready” to return to the NFL. Is it true? Probably only O’Brien, his family, and his agent know for sure, but you can expect to hear much more on this over the coming weeks as NFL teams wrap up the regular season and prepare for the annual turnover in head coaching jobs. Stay tuned.

It’s finals week: The cold front that has smacked Happy Valley in recent days should make it easier for students to cuddle up with warm books and laptops for the next few days as they wrap up the fall semester with final exams. Student media has all sorts of finals-related coverage—much of it lighthearted, much of it NSFW, exactly—but this list of songs to get students through study sessions from the Daily Collegian’s “Finals Mag” is somewhat illuminating. Who knew they were listening to Dylan?

Ryan Jones, senior editor

December 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm 1 comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Nov. 4, 2013

In the eye of the beholder: “Ugly” was the word flying around after Saturday’s 24-17 OT win over Illinois. Most fans and media agree that’s exactly what it was, while Bill O’Brien and his players, pretty much to a man, insisted that any win is a thing of beauty. Regardless of your perspective, there were some cool post-game insights from this one. Among them:

* The overtime touchdown pass from Christian Hackenberg to Kyle Carter is Bill O’Brien’s “favorite” play call—and that was before it won the game.

* Junior running back Bill Belton apologized for the goal-line fumble that almost cost the Lions the game, and thanked his teammates for bailing him out. Suffice it to say, without Belton’s 201 rushing yards—the first 200-yard game by a Penn State running back since Larry Johnson ’02 in 2002—the Lions wouldn’t have been in the game.

* And after yet another huge game from junior wideout Allen Robinson, NFL.com singled him out for praise—no doubt, a positive sign for A-Rob’s future employment.

Is that video of Bill O’Brien coaching practice on Halloween dressed as the Nittany Lion? Yes. Yes it is.

Mike McQueary, in context: Monday marks two years since Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71g was indicted, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review marks the anniversary with a profile of Mike McQueary ’97, whose testimony will be central to the eventual trial of former university administrators. Trib staff writer Adam Smeltz ’05 mixes anecdotal perspectives on McQueary’s personality with expert opinions on how his testimony will impact the trial. A piece that might be worth bookmarking for whenever the trial gets underway.

A love story, and a lesson: Donald Ford, founding dean of the College of Health and Human Development, hopes the story of his relationship with his late wife—and how he helped manage her later years as she suffered from Alzheimer’s—is an inspiration for others. With Carol’s Alzheimer’s Journey, Ford ’56g combined tales from their six-decade relationship (including letters they wrote each other over the years) with his perspective on how, with creativity, help, and an impressive level of commitment, he was able to care for Carol at home even as her disease progressed. You can find out more about the book, including links to purchase it, here.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

November 4, 2013 at 1:13 pm Leave a comment

We Are… “Linebacker U”? It Sure Looks That Way

It’s not that Penn State ever stopped producing great linebackers, but enough other schools have turned out really good ones in recent years that some fans and media observers have tried to reassign the Lions’ unofficial title of “Linebacker U.”

Well, enough of that.

On Wednesday, Dallas Cowboys’ second-year linebacker Sean Lee ’09 was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month. Through three games, Lee—who wasn’t guaranteed to be a starter this season—was the NFL’s second-leading tackler. Fourth on that list? Another second-year linebacker, Navorro Bowman ’09 of the San Francisco 49ers. This after a 2010 season in which two of the league’s top-three sack leaders were linebackers Tamba Hali ’06 of the Kansas City Chiefs and Cameron (formerly Derek) Wake ’04 of the Miami Dolphins. (In fairness, Hali played defensive end in college, and Wake was something of a “tweener” between ‘backer and end while at Penn State.) And the NFL’s third-leading tackler last season? That was linebacker Paul Posluszny ’06, now of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

There are a couple more linebackers among the 31 ex-Nittany Lions on current NFL rosters. You can keep up with all of them with weekly updates on gopsusports.com.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

September 29, 2011 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

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