Marian’s Krishawn Hogan gains extra motivation heading into NFL Combine

WESTFIELD, Ind. – Krishawn Hogan’s preparation for the most important job interview of his young life was interrupted by a surprise arrival Saturday.

Welcome, Krishawn Hogan Jr.

“That’s a huge addition to my family,’’ the former Marian University standout wide receiver said Tuesday, flashing the smile of a proud papa. “KJ...got a little Junior now.’’

Hogan has been immersed in St. Vincent Sports Performance’s EXOS training program since Jan. 1 in preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine, which makes its annual visit to Indianapolis next week. He’s one of 300-plus invitees, and the first – ever –  from Marian.

He’s been put through an extended and exhaustive dress rehearsal for what’s to come when NFL general managers and coaches peel away every layer of his athletic and personal life. He’s honed his technique to trim valuable tenths of seconds in his 40 time, endured mock interviews and focused on acing the “gauntlet,’’ a position-specific drill that requires a receiver to run the width of the field while catching passes along the way.

Then along came Krishawn Hogan Jr., two weeks early.

“These last two nights I maybe got 8 hours of sleep combined,’’ Hogan said. “I’ve had a little practice running without sleep so that has helped me out in case the Combine’s hectic and I don’t get much sleep.

“I’ll be just fine.’’

Hogan’s family has been supportive since his formative days at Warren Central High School and his emergence as a legitimate NFL prospect at Marian. That intensified as he and his girl friend, Natalia Font, prepared for the arrival of KJ, due March 5. Natalia was an elite sprinter at Marian.

“We’re young, but we’re both so excited,’’ Hogan said. “It’s not hard to keep things in perspective. These last couple of mornings it has been hard to get up and leave him and tell him goodbye.

“But my girl friend keeps telling me, ‘You’ve got to do this right now. You’ve got to focus on you right now and I’ll take care of (KJ). Get through this and you can be with him all day.’’’

There’s no overstating the importance of the opportunity awaiting Hogan. A minimum base salary for an NFL rookie is a non-guaranteed $465,000, and the accompanying signing bonus obviously depends on when the player is drafted. Last year, the Colts gave guard Joe Haeg, their fifth-round pick and the 155th overall pick, a $242,412 signing bonus. They gave center Austin Blythe, a seventh-round pick and the 248th overall selection, a 39rd overall selection, a $61,988 signing bonus.

An undrafted rookie can expect a signing bonus in the $10-15,000 range.

But first things first, and that’s wrapping up training with SVSP and making a good first impression with the NFL.

“I’m confident in the combine next week because I’ve done so many reps during my training here,’’ Hogan said. “Hopefully that will get me to a rookie minicamp. I’ll be even more confident when it’s just football and it’s not just how fast you can run in a straight line or how high you can jump.’’

Hogan’s numbers are impressive. First, he possesses intriguing size: 6-3, 224. Then, there’s his three-year, 40-game resume at Marian: 263 receptions, 4,395 yards and 42 touchdowns. The receptions rank 7th in NAIA history. He was the Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Offensive Player of the Year in 2016, and eclipsed the 1,000-yard all three seasons. As a junior, he collected 101 catches for 1,824 yards and 16 TDs.

The last hurdle Hogan must clear is proving to NFL talent scouts the skills he showcased for NAIA powerhouse Marian will transfer to the sport’s biggest stage. Any doubts he might have had were erased when he participated in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Jan. 21 in Carson, Calif.

“Once we put the pads on, you don’t have time to think about who played at what level,’’ Hogan said. “You’re going to go 100 miles an hour or you’re going to look bad.

“Even though maybe I had heard of them and they hadn’t heard of me, we’re at the same place now. He’s trying to do the same thing I’m trying to do regardless where he played the last four years.’’

Not surprisingly, Hogan remains something of an unknown, even among his peers.

How many receivers at the Combine will draw a blank if they’re asked the location of Marian University?

“I’m going to go ahead and say one, and that would be myself,’’ Hogan said. “Actually I met some guys at the All-Star game that are going to the combine, so probably five of us.

“When I first me them, they were like, ‘Where? Where’s that?’ I just told them (Marian) is a small school in Indianapolis.’’

In the EXOS training program

Along with Hogan, 11 others have been participating in SVSP’s EXOS training program.

The list: wide receiver KeVonn Mabon and offensive lineman Drake Miller of Ball State; Purdue defensive end Evan Panfil; Lindenwood linebacker Connor Harris; Illinois State offensive linemen Cameron Lee and Mark Spelman; Dartmouth linebacker Folarin Orimolade; Buffalo running back Jordan Johnson; Youngstown State cornerback David Rivers; Michigan offensive lineman Ben Braden; and Main defensive lineman Patrick Ricard.

Like Hogan, Harris, Lee and Braden were invited to the Combine.