Stanford University’s head football coach, David Shaw, called Kevin Hogan the evening after the Cardinal’s 48-0 road win against Colorado. Hogan, a redshirt freshman, had entered that game in the first quarter and led Stanford to four consecutive scoring drives.
The McLean native answered his phone and quietly listened as Shaw informed him that he would start at quarterback for the team’s upcoming game against then-No.13 Oregon State. There was no elation, no screams of joy. Hogan coolly took the news in stride.
“I didn’t really tell anyone,” Hogan, 20, said with a laugh. “I kind of kept it to myself.”
Hogan didn’t disappoint. He passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns while adding another 60 yards on the ground, and earned his first win as a starter as Stanford defeated Oregon State, 27-23.
Fast forward to December and the young signal caller has built quite the resume. Since taking over as a starter, Hogan is 4-0 and has helped Stanford capture the 2012 Pacific-12 Conference title and secure a Rose Bowl berth.
“We knew that we were capable of playing good football, and we hit our stride at the right time of the season,” Hogan said. “Personally, it’s been fun for me to be out there on the field playing and I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”
While Hogan’s athleticism allows him to be a threat both on the ground and in the air, his unflappable demeanor is perhaps his biggest asset. Trailing 14-7 in the fourth quarter against then-No. 1 Oregon at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., Hogan tuned out the raucous crowd, took a snap from the shotgun formation and tossed the game-tying touchdown pass over the left shoulder of tight end Zach Ertz with 1:38 remaining in regulation. The touchdown pass set up Stanford’s 17-14 overtime win, the team’s first victory in 13 tries against the Ducks.
“Nothing bothers him,” said Gonzaga College High School head coach Aaron Brady, who coached Hogan for two seasons at Gonzaga. “He turns every negative into a positive. Kevin doesn’t care what the odds are or who’s with him. He believes that he can win and that he can lead the guys around him to be successful.”
Stanford wasn’t always Hogan’s clear-cut college destination. While Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Rutgers showed early interest in the youngster, Stanford took notice late in the recruiting process after current offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton found himself in the D.C. area scouting other prospects. It only took a few of Hogan’s throws in practice to impress Hamilton.
“[Hamilton] said, ‘He is the kid who can be Andrew Luck,’” noted Brady. “That’s pretty impressive. He’s the one guy the coaches said could be the next Andrew Luck. That’s a big statement, but Pep’s a good judge of talent.”
Hogan and Luck’s paths crossed last year during Luck’s senior season. Hogan redshirted, but he spent hours picking Luck’s brain and soaking in everything the senior knew about the game. Luck said Stanford is in good hands.
“A lot of things have impressed me about Kevin. One, his demeanor is always positive and he doesn’t seem too rattled or too excited about any situation,” said the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie quarterback. “He has a calm, collective and cool mentality towards things. I think that’s very beneficial towards handling situations, being a leader and having guys follow him.”
While attending the District’s Gonzaga College High School, Hogan also played shooting guard on the basketball team in the competitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC). He said playing against traditional powerhouse programs such as DeMatha, Our Lady of Good Counsel and Paul VI Catholic helped form the skills he now utilizes on the football field.
“Playing in the WCAC was tough. It’s one of the top basketball conferences [in the region],” Hogan said. “The atmosphere in the gymnasiums was pretty intense. The fans were close to the court and it could get pretty loud. That translated over onto the football field, you know, playing against good teams and good players. Being in those situations helped a lot.”
Hogan will lead Stanford against Big Ten champion Wisconsin in the 99th edition of the Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif. In a twist of irony, both teams met in 2000, Stanford’s last appearance in the prestigious bowl.
While life’s a bit different these days for Stanford’s new big man on campus, his demeanor, much like his style of play, remains unchanged and as composed as ever.
“My teammates always give me a hard time,” Hogan said with a chuckle. “I try not to get too worked up over situations. I just try to think of it as playing football, something I’ve done since third grade. You can’t let the crowd get in your head or let anything emotionally hijack you. If you can stick to that, you’ll be fine.”