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Western New Yorker climbs college football coaching ladder

Anthony Lynn brought the eight coaching interns into a room at the Buffalo Bills training facility in June.

The then running backs coach, one by one, rattled off the names and accomplishments of each person and told them why they were chosen for the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship.

Seth Joyner was a three-time Pro Bowler and the 1991 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Timmy Chang set multiple NCAA passing records at Hawaii. Louis Aguiar, Michael Bankston, David Clowney and Drew Coleman all played in the NFL.

Jeremy Gold used to coach at Division I Eastern Michigan.

Toward the end of the list, Lynn got to Jordan Hogan.

The 2009 Newfane grad had been on Buffalo State’s staff as the wide receivers coach since 2013. The 6-footer was a three-year starter at Brockport who finished his playing career fifth all-time in receiving yards and eighth in catches. He was a team captain and a preseason All-American as a senior after earning All-New Jersey Athletic Conference honors as a junior.

“The only reason why Jordan Hogan is here,” Lynn said, “is because of his work ethic and being so damn persistent.”

Hogan was admittedly persistent. He had to be. This program isn’t designed for people like him, a 24-year-old D-III assistant at the time. It’s supposed to be for former NFL players looking to break into the coaching industry.

“It’s an interesting process,” said Hogan, who'll turn 26 on April 19. “It’s an application process, but it’s not really. You gotta know somebody.”

That process for Hogan started a year earlier, in June 2015, when he noticed a man standing off in the background of the Bills’ fieldhouse watching him coach at the Jim Kelly Football Camp. Little did Hogan know he was Jeff Weeks, a defensive assistant on Rex Ryan’s new coaching staff.

Weeks eventually approached Hogan during a water break and asked if he was going to be at any more camps that summer because he liked his abundance of energy and how he was working with his son.

Weeks handed Hogan his business card and invited him to training camp a few weeks later at St. John Fisher.

That August Hogan met GM Doug Whaley for the first time and had a quick hi-and-bye with receivers coach Sanjay Lal. Weeks at the conclusion of the visit advised Hogan to stay in touch so he could try to get him an internship with the team the next year.

Jordan Hogan looks on as Bills receiver Dezmin Lewis catches a pass during training camp at St. John Fisher College. (James P. McCoy/ Buffalo News)

Hogan sent out his initial round of emails to Whaley, Lynn, Lal and Weeks in mid-January, and he continued to do so over the next few months in a very calculated manner.

“I would send emails and leave voicemails at night so the messages would be waiting for them when they walked in in the morning,” Hogan said.

The official call came from Lynn in late May. The first thing he said to Hogan, sitting in his office at Buff State, was that “the internship isn’t for guys like you, but if he has two guys who are vouching for him then he has to take him into consideration.”

The persistence paid off. Weeks and Lal, in particular, had been pushing Hogan on the coaching staff for weeks.

“When I got the nod, I just worked my tail off,” Hogan said. “I always tried to be seen. Whether it be charting receiver rotations or watching a lot of film staying up late at night with coaches in the room. ... I conducted myself as a coach but wasn’t by any means telling the players to do anything.”

He’ll have plenty of time to do that this season in his new role as wide receivers coach at D-II Stonehill College in Easton, Mass.

It was a quick transition for Hogan, who’s been on campus since the first week of March. But it wasn’t the first time he’s been in contact with the Skyhawks. Head coach Eli Gardner originally reached out while he was with the Bills.

“There was an opening on staff last summer and he wanted to know if I could interview,” Hogan said. “I told him I appreciated it, but I couldn’t leave that opportunity even though I was only there a few weeks. He completely understood and said he’d keep my resume on file.”

Lo and behold a position opened up at the end of February, and Gardner flew Hogan out to Easton for an all-day interview. He met the whole athletic staff, worked on the whiteboard, went on a campus tour.

“I didn’t know if I was the only guy or if they had other guys coming in,” Hogan said. “Obviously I did something right because they made me an offer before I left.”

Hogan wasn’t going to move on from his post at Buff State for any job that came along. It had to be a perfect fit. After discussing it with his family, he decided that this was the right time to make the jump to the next level.

Jordan Hogan may be back in the NFL as soon as this summer. He’s in the running for another internship opportunity with two AFC teams. (Photo provided by Dave DeLuca)

“I’d been at Buff State for four years, went to two bowl games, coached some great players,” Hogan said. “I don’t want it to sound bad, but I just took advantage of the success.

“Seventy-five percent of it is that it’s D-II, and, sure, the pay is more. I’ve always wanted to recruit scholarship-type athletes. Now I get my chance to work with top-notch athletes who get the job done in the classroom.”

As with any move, the new surroundings will take some getting used to. The toughest part of the transition won’t be on the football field, though. The X’s and O’s translate.

For Hogan it’ll be the distance away from his family — his mother, stepfather and two sisters. He lived at home and went to college close by. Now he’s 450 miles away on the East Coast.

“We definitely shed some tears,” Hogan said. At the same time, he understands that that’s all part of the process.

“It’s a lot. It’s definitely more taxing and more work. The rewards of working in the NFL are awesome, but you’re going to pay the price. I’ve already sacrificed a lot, but I’m willing to sacrifice a little more to make it back.”

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