Hogan pushed for time with an impressive series of bowl practices, and finds himself as a borderline starter with the limitations ahead of him for defensive end Djwany Mera. Mera is a fifth-year senior limited for spring camp, which puts Hogan in line for plenty of first-team reps.
“It’s a great situation for me,” Hogan said. “There’s nothing better in the world than getting a lot of reps with the ones of twos and trying to show what I can do to earn a second-string spot.”
Rutgers could rotate as many as nine defensive linemen this season, however Mera’s backup battle likely comes down to Hogan and fellow red-shirt freshman Donald Bedell.
Hogan, at 6-foot-4, 235, has an early edge and already took home a special “war daddy” award from position coach Jim Panagos.
“It’s such an honor and I want another one,” Hogan said on recognition from his position coach. “… Whomever has the most high-energy practice, whomever shows they want to be out there the most earns one.”
Panagos and Hogan have a close relationship, the defensive end said.
“He’s always high energy,” Hogan said. “He’s keeping us on the task at hand. He’s a great coach. He’s always joking around but makes sure we’re focused. He can get serious really quick. He’s an awesome guy. … He’s the kind of coach I can tell really cares about me.”
Hogan came to Rutgers unsure of where he fits between the E and three-technique spots on the defensive line. He showcased himself well during his first training camp, and built himself into a likely competitor in the 2015 rotation.
“I’ve gotten a lot more mentally tough,” Hogan said. “That’s thanks to the coaches. … I’ve been working on my hands a lot too. That’s something they teach really well and staying square with my technique. Coach P is trying to help get me better every day.
“I’ve tried to become more physical and violent. I’ve changed a lot. The winter program helped me a lot with my body. I’m getting stronger, and I can feel that.”