Football

It’s another ‘first’ for Charlotte 49ers’ football aide Mark Hogan

Matt Hogan, now a graduate assistant coach with the Charlotte 49ers’ football team, is best-known for the play – his interception of a Campbell pass on the second play of the 49ers’ first football game. Hogan (9) returned it for a touchdown.
Matt Hogan, now a graduate assistant coach with the Charlotte 49ers’ football team, is best-known for the play – his interception of a Campbell pass on the second play of the 49ers’ first football game. Hogan (9) returned it for a touchdown. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Mark Hogan smiles when he’s asked if people still mention the play.

“Yeah, I hear about it from time to time,” says Hogan, a graduate assistant coach with the Charlotte 49ers football team. “It seemed to mean a lot to some people on the campus.”

Hogan is part of a 49ers’ football program that will make history Friday afternoon, when Charlotte moves to the NCAA big-time – the Football Bowl Subdivision – by facing Georgia State in the Georgia Dome.

Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m., with national television (ESPNU) coverage.

Hogan, however, has an unusual perspective on today’s game.

He was a member of the first Georgia State team when that school launched a football program in 2010. And after three years as a starter, he moved to Charlotte and was a member of the 49ers’ first football team in 2013.

And it goes further. Last year, he was an assistant coach at Texas State. That team finished the season against … Georgia State.

“So I’m helping coach against Georgia State two games in a row,” says Hogan, who grew up in Atlanta.

Matt Hogan is best known, however, for the play – his interception of a Campbell pass on the second play of the 49ers’ first football game. He returned it for a touchdown.

“I can still see the crowd reaction,” Hogan says. “They went wild.”

The 49ers would like more of the same Friday afternoon, in their first game against an FBS opponent. Moving up from the Football Championship Subdivision, where the 49ers played in their first two seasons, is a challenge. But the 49ers say they’ve worked toward this day.

“The coaching staff has done everything possible to get the players ready for this,” Hogan says.

Head coach Brad Lambert says the 49ers have followed a plan they designed when the program was started.

“Once we had the plan, it was a matter of following it,” Lambert says.

He adds, “I’m just an old farm guy from western Kansas. And now it’s harvest time, guys. It’s time to go get it.”

Hogan says there were “different dynamics” between the first Georgia State and initial 49er teams. “Some of the situations are not the same,” he says. “But in both cases, the schools stepped up the competition. Our team is aware that things will be different. But the foundation has been set. I think we’re ready.”

Lambert has modeled his program much like former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe, under whom Lambert worked as an assistant before coming to Charlotte. Like Grobe, Lambert has red-shirted a number of players and will put an experienced team on the field this season.

“I’ve referred to our experienced players as ‘old guys’,” he says. “When we started two years ago, we didn’t really know what to expect. Now we do. This is just the next ‘first’ for our program.”

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