Thomas Hogan learned his lessons very well.
Having had the opportunity to fine tune his craft with standout runner Marquis Munoz (168 carries for 1,484 yards with 28 touchdowns) in the Lafayette Jefferson backfield a year ago has paid off big time for the 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior speedster.
"Playing behind Marquis allowed me to experience his leadership," said Hogan, who tallied 42 rushes for 507 yards with eight touchdowns and nine receptions for 44 yards and a score in 2019. "I wouldn't trade that experience. That drive taught me how to grow as a person and eventually become a leader."
With Munoz now lending his services as a walk-on at nearby Purdue University, Hogan has certainly taken advantage of his opportunity to be the main ball carrier for the No. 3 (Class 6A) Bronchos (6-0) with 115 touches for 1,162 yards with 18 touchdowns and five catches for 40 yards.
"(Lafayette Jeff) Coach (Pat) Shanley always knows how to get someone the ball in the right spot and has put so much time into all of our players and coaches," explained Hogan. "That's why he is the best coach that I have ever played under. Everyone respects him because what he has done for our program."
The rest of the state of Indiana found out just how special of a performer Hogan was on September 11 when he exploded for a school-record 474 yards with nine touchdowns (another record) on 32 carries in a 76-55 triumph over rival Harrison (West Lafayette).
"I will remember going to war with my brothers," recalled Hogan, who attended Harrison as a freshman before transferring to Lafayette Jeff. "That win was not all about me. That game was all about if we could fight and overcome adversity. It was nice to score nine touchdowns, but I wanted the win over anything and all of my teammates will tell you the same thing."
A lot of his success is attributed to the fact he is also an accomplished performer for the Lafayette Jeff track and field squad.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic forced the postponement of all spring sports. Hogan had a time of 6.36 in the 55-meter dash in their only indoor track meet held at Purdue. That was good for best in the state and was ranked 15th best nationally. In the same meet, he also had a time of 22.99 in the 200-meter dash.
As a sophomore, he had the opportunity to compete in the state finals where he placed 12th in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.09.
"After the (track) season ended early, I was sad because I told everyone I was going to win state and nobody believed me," Hogan recalled. "So I worked on getting bigger, faster, and stronger for football season. I came out for our first game and I was ready to go. I trusted my coaches that they would put me in the right spot and it has been working."
Since rambling 27 times for 241 yards and two scores in the season opening 27-16 win over West Lafayette, Hogan has been a man on a mission.
"Thomas has put in a lot of hard work on the field, in the classroom, and in the weight room in order to put himself in a great position to succeed not only this year but beyond," Shanley said. "His growth as a leader for his position group has been tremendous. He has been an extension of the coaching staff within our position group on a daily basis! I am proud to see everything that he has accomplished so far this season and look forward to him continuing to put in the work while both he and our team strive to accomplish some big goals."
Although Thomas has gotten a lot of attention for his accomplishments, he is quick to point out he is by no means a one-man show.
"I know that when we go against anyone that they can't stop us on either side of the ball," Hogan said. "I think having an amazing defense helps because when we go one-on-one in practice its gets real crazy. Both sides want to win and will not settle for anything less. They are the best defense we will play all year.
"I can't name one person that has been the most influential in my life because there are so many people that have helped me along the way. I think one of my biggest influences is my dad. I do everything for him and I hope he is proud watching over me."
Hogan doesn't know just yet what the future holds for him.
"My plans after high school have not been decided yet because we haven't finished football season yet and track has not started either," Hogan said. "I would like to say that I want to play college football and run college track, but I don't know how this year will end. So, I'm just going to focus on getting to college and getting my grades so I have the chance to play at the highest level on whatever I decide to do."