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Kevin Hogan feature

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by ejhayes737, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. ejhayes737

    ejhayes737 Member

    Hey, gang. Wrote this story and have been meaning to post it for some constructive feedback. Thanks to everyone in advance.

    Hogan leads Stanford to Rose Bowl

    McLean native thrives in redshirt freshman season

    Stanford University’s head football coach, David Shaw, called Kevin Hogan the evening after the Cardinal’s 48-0 road win against Colorado. Hogan, a redshirt freshman, had entered that game in the first quarter and led Stanford to four consecutive scoring drives.

    The McLean native answered his phone and quietly listened as Shaw informed him that he would start at quarterback for the team’s upcoming game against then-No.13 Oregon State. There was no elation, no screams of joy. Hogan coolly took the news in stride.

    “I didn’t really tell anyone,” Hogan, 20, said with a laugh. “I kind of kept it to myself.”

    Hogan didn’t disappoint. He passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns while adding another 60 yards on the ground, and earned his first win as a starter as Stanford defeated Oregon State, 27-23.

    Fast forward to December and the young signal caller has built quite the resume. Since taking over as a starter, Hogan is 4-0 and has helped Stanford capture the 2012 Pacific-12 Conference title and secure a Rose Bowl berth.

    “We knew that we were capable of playing good football, and we hit our stride at the right time of the season,” Hogan said. “Personally, it’s been fun for me to be out there on the field playing and I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”

    While Hogan’s athleticism allows him to be a threat both on the ground and in the air, his unflappable demeanor is perhaps his biggest asset. Trailing 14-7 in the fourth quarter against then-No. 1 Oregon at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., Hogan tuned out the raucous crowd, took a snap from the shotgun formation and tossed the game-tying touchdown pass over the left shoulder of tight end Zach Ertz with 1:38 remaining in regulation. The touchdown pass set up Stanford’s 17-14 overtime win, the team’s first victory in 13 tries against the Ducks.

    “Nothing bothers him,” said Gonzaga College High School head coach Aaron Brady, who coached Hogan for two seasons at Gonzaga. “He turns every negative into a positive. Kevin doesn’t care what the odds are or who’s with him. He believes that he can win and that he can lead the guys around him to be successful.”

    Stanford wasn’t always Hogan’s clear-cut college destination. While Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Rutgers showed early interest in the youngster, Stanford took notice late in the recruiting process after current offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton found himself in the D.C. area scouting other prospects. It only took a few of Hogan’s throws in practice to impress Hamilton.

    “[Hamilton] said, ‘He is the kid who can be Andrew Luck,’” noted Brady. “That’s pretty impressive. He’s the one guy the coaches said could be the next Andrew Luck. That’s a big statement, but Pep’s a good judge of talent.”

    Hogan and Luck’s paths crossed last year during Luck’s senior season. Hogan redshirted, but he spent hours picking Luck’s brain and soaking in everything the senior knew about the game. Luck said Stanford is in good hands.

    “A lot of things have impressed me about Kevin. One, his demeanor is always positive and he doesn’t seem too rattled or too excited about any situation,” said the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie quarterback. “He has a calm, collective and cool mentality towards things. I think that’s very beneficial towards handling situations, being a leader and having guys follow him.”

    While attending the District’s Gonzaga College High School, Hogan also played shooting guard on the basketball team in the competitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC). He said playing against traditional powerhouse programs such as DeMatha, Our Lady of Good Counsel and Paul VI Catholic helped form the skills he now utilizes on the football field.

    “Playing in the WCAC was tough. It’s one of the top basketball conferences [in the region],” Hogan said. “The atmosphere in the gymnasiums was pretty intense. The fans were close to the court and it could get pretty loud. That translated over onto the football field, you know, playing against good teams and good players. Being in those situations helped a lot.”

    Hogan will lead Stanford against Big Ten champion Wisconsin in the 99th edition of the Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif. In a twist of irony, both teams met in 2000, Stanford’s last appearance in the prestigious bowl.

    While life’s a bit different these days for Stanford’s new big man on campus, his demeanor, much like his style of play, remains unchanged and as composed as ever.

    “My teammates always give me a hard time,” Hogan said with a chuckle. “I try not to get too worked up over situations. I just try to think of it as playing football, something I’ve done since third grade. You can’t let the crowd get in your head or let anything emotionally hijack you. If you can stick to that, you’ll be fine.”
  2. ejhayes737

    ejhayes737 Member

    Anything, anyone?
  3. slartibartfast

    slartibartfast New Member

    You seem to be reaching for a theme: Hogan keeps his cool. Like a lot of news writers, you start with an anecdote that you hope focuses your insight into a laser that burns your idea into the reader's mind.

    And as with most anecdotal leads, it's too ordinary, and has too much distracting detail (a coach, a road game flashback, background on his entry to the game, a score, a ranking, a phone call, etc.) to deliver the clarity and impact you want. A lot of verbal twisting and turning is then employed to connect the anecdote to the theme. Result: a story with that awkward, straining, overlong feel, and readers who bail out. Anecdotal leads that ask the reader to go back in time are especially deadly.

    You then abandon this idea about Hogan for three paragraphs, letting it evaporate from the reader's mind, only to return to it in the 7th graf. Now you have to work to give this idea energy again.

    It's good to have something you want to say about your subject, especially in a profile. Choosing Hogan's apparently unflappable demeanor is as good an angle as any, especially if it's true, and most especially if you have the evidence of his calm nature to show the reader.

    And you've got some goods: A clutch touchdown pass in a hostile environment. His basketball experience. The fateful phone call. A quote from a HS coach. Testimony from none other than the most celebrated NFL quarterback since John Elway. Not bad for a quickie profile.

    Rule No. 1 about the craft of news writing: Like material stays together. Group together all your material about Hogan's calm demeanor.

    Next, ditch the anecdotal lead; instead, redeploy the phone-call bit as just another piece of evidence of him keeping cool. Then write a lead that says, directly, what you want to say about your subject. If you can't think up the lead just now, fine. Write something as simple as: Nothing rattles Kevin Hogan.

    Then forget the lead for the moment and write the stuff you know you can write now, like the several bits of evidence showing how he keeps his cool. Maybe go roughly chronological: start with his basketball stuff, then his Colorado-game performance, the phone call, then the Oregon performance, then his HS coach, and finish up with the knockout punch, the quote from Luck. He's a strong closing argument.

    Or maybe start with Luck -- an endorsement from someone who should know. Follow with the other example. There's more than one way to do it.

    Put other similar material together -- his recruiting journey; the stuff advancing the bowl game; the summing up of Stanford's performance for the season. Move them around like chunks; find a sequence that makes sense. Don't jam them into the middle of the stuff about his demeanor. Take just a pinch from that material and sprinkle it into the nut graf -- the graf that follows the lead and immediately precedes the main body (all those keeping-calm exhibits) and quickly -- very, very quickly -- states why you're bothering to tell this story: This unassuming guy has come off the bench to take the team to the Rose Bowl.

    Finish the story by letting Hogan himself reprise the main theme, with his "I try not to get worked up" quote. Send the reader out with that message ringing in their ears.

    Then return to your lead. By now your subconscious probably will have a couple decent suggestions to make.

    Lesser points:

    Kill the cliches. Just a few of them:

    Fast forward
    signal caller
    took ______ in stride
    raucous crowd
    took notice
    paths crossed
    in good hands
    big man on campus

    Look for ways to economize. One example:

    . . . said Gonzaga College High School head coach Aaron Brady, who coached Hogan for two seasons at Gonzaga.

    Try this:

    . . . said Aaron Brady, Hogan's head football coach for two seasons at Gonzaga College High School.

    Good luck.

    P.S.: Any time you are tempted to use the word "irony," resist. It's one of the most overused, and misused, words in newswriting. The fact that the two teams last met in in the same bowl game in 2000 is not ironic in the least. It is coincidence, for which irony often is mistaken.
  4. ejhayes737

    ejhayes737 Member

    Thank you for such a detailed critique. I've sent you a personal message.
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