Chris Hogan, Cooks' fellow starting receiver in New England, had 12 catches — in his entire college career.
Hogan was a multi-sport star at Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes, N.J., who made all-state teams in football and lacrosse. He fielded Division-I offers in both sports, including Syracuse, Virginia and Penn State for lacrosse and Rutgers and UConn for football.
“It was tough,’’ Hogan said last year. “I loved playing both sports. When it came down to it, I felt Penn State was an amazing school. I loved the campus. And it was an opportunity to help build a rising [lacrosse] program. It was tough, but I’ve never regretted my decision at all.’’
He was a four-year starter for the Nittany Lions and earned multiple All-ECAC honors while registering 71 career points on 57 goals and 14 assists. Though he had an outstanding career on the field, it was an ankle injury his sophomore year that forced him off the field and ultimately re-launched his football career.
Hogan graduated from Penn State in 2010 and, because of the missed 2008 season, had one year of eligibility remaining. He wanted to play football again.
“It was something that was definitely in the back of my mind always,’’ said Hogan. “I always thought that I could play football at the college level . . . I thought about it constantly.’’
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder enrolled at Monmouth, an FCS program 65 miles south of Franklin Lakes, and played both cornerback and receiver. He tied for the team lead with three interceptions and added 12 receptions for 147 yards and three touchdowns. Despite the modest stats in one season at a small school, Hogan spun the NFL wheel, hoping his film, workouts and performance at Fordham's pro day were enough to earn an undrafted free agent contract.
"I think his goal was to see if he could make it to the next level, to play on Sunday, to play in the NFL," Monmouth head coach Kevin Callahan said last January. "I think he missed football, as a matter of fact he told me that, although he enjoyed lacrosse at Penn State, he used to go and watch the football games and kind of wish he was out there playing football.’’
He got that contract and, after bouncing around camp rosters and practice squads, he latched on with the Buffalo Bills in 2012. Four years he later was terrorizing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship, when he set the Patriots' postseason record with 180 receiving yards.
Chris Hogan had more receiving yards in a game that sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl than in his entire college career.