INDIANAPOLIS — Krishawn Hogan played in his first football game as an 8-year-old second grader for the Buccaneers of Warren Township on Indianapolis' east side. Ever since that day, he dreamed about getting the chance to play in the National Football League.
Last Sunday – 14 years later – Hogan fulfilled that dream by playing in his first NFL football game as a 22-year-old wide receiver for his hometown Indianapolis Colts.
The rookie — who was on the team's practice squad before being called up to the active roster earlier in the week — made a handful of appearances in the offensive lineup at receiver and also contributed on kickoff coverage during the Colts' 48-16 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
After getting into the game for a few snaps in the first half, the Indy native made a play on the opening kickoff of the second half. After Rigoberto Sanchez booted the ball to begin the third quarter, Hogan sprinted down the field and tackled Seahawks returner Tyler Lockett inside the Seattle 20-yard line.
"It was kind of weird – I got up, and I didn't even celebrate (after the tackle)," Hogan said with a laugh after the game. "A tackle inside the 20 is pretty good, but I didn't know what to do. I was just happy I made a play."
Many in Indianapolis are happy as well — happy for a hometown kid that made good on his dreams against the odds. It's remarkable for any player to make it to the very top of a game played by millions across the world, but Hogan's story is particularly incredible.
Hogan grew up playing quarterback in Indianapolis (and, thus, naturally loved Peyton Manning), but he never had great size. He was a short reserve quarterback at Indiana high school powerhouse Warren Central for two seasons before hitting a growth spurt as a junior. In a matter of months, Hogan shot up by five inches from 5-9 to 6-2 and made the transition to wide receiver.
Awkward with his new body at first, Hogan finally saw playing time at the varsity level, but caught only 20 passes for one touchdown as a slot receiver his senior year.
After graduation, thanks to his cousin Kyler White, Hogan spent one year at Division II Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio. White had an offer to play for the Cavaliers, and he convinced the coaching staff to bring his cousin Krishawn onto the team as well.
Hogan played 10 games for Walsh in 2013, but the team released him after the season. Hogan admitted to having an attitude problem and being a little immature as a freshman. He clashed with coaches at times during the season, but one interaction did instill confidence in the young player. Offensive coordinator Adam Sherman regularly told Hogan he could someday become an NFL-caliber receiver.
Hogan didn't believe him at first.
"I was like 6-2, maybe 180 pounds, scrawny," Hogan said. "(I) wasn't very fast. I think I ran a 4.9 (second 40-yard dash) on Freshman Day. I was like, 'There's no way.'"
After his year at Walsh, Hogan transferred to Marian University in Indianapolis where he began to produce on the field and started to believe in his professional prospects.
"Once things started to go good at Marian, I was like, 'Well, if I put up big enough numbers, somebody will come looking.'"
Hogan was exactly right. He put up ridiculous numbers in his three seasons at Marian: 263 receptions for a school record 4,395 yards and 42 touchdowns (also a school record) plus 63 carries for 170 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also helped lead Marian to an NAIA National Championship as a junior in 2015.
And, right on cue, the scouts started coming. Hogan remembers seeing an NFL scout of some kind at nearly all of his practices during his senior year.
Then this spring he participated in the 2017 NFL Combine and signed as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals. After spending the offseason in Phoenix, Hogan was waived, but it didn't take long for the Colts to come calling and sign him to their practice squad.
Last week Hogan was elevated to the active roster of his hometown team, and on Sunday, he became the first Marian football player to play in an NFL regular season game.
The short junior varsity quarterback, who graduated high school without any major college scholarship offers to speak of, had become a big, physical NFL wide receiver.
Hogan did it — he achieved his NFL dream. But the work is far from done.
The goal now is to stay.
"The next step is to be on the roster next week and do that for 14 more weeks this season," Hogan said. "And then go into camp next year and hopefully really go for a job and try to be here for a while."