DENVER (TNS) — Wide receiver River Cracraft recalls the feeling of being on the opposite sideline of quarterback Kevin Hogan. Cracraft's Washington State team played Hogan's Stanford squad three times. The Cardinal prevailed in every meeting.
"The kid just wins," Cracraft said.
True. Among the all-time great quarterbacks to wear a Stanford uniform — Jim Plunkett, John Elway and Andrew Luck included — none won more games (36) or accounted for more total offense (10,634 yards).
Hogan and Cracraft are now Denver Broncos teammates, often spotted together after practice gaining route reps hard to come by deep down the depth chart. But with the departure of former second-string quarterback Chad Kelly following a criminal trespassing arrest, comes new order. Hogan will backup Keenum on Sunday against the coach and team that picked Hogan in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft, only to waive him after training camp: Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs.
"It's definitely ironic," Hogan said. "These things have a funny way of coming full-circle."
The folks in KC, despite giving Hogan the boot, are glad to see him seize the opportunity.
"(Hogan) has got sniper vision and great eyes," Reid said. "He sees everything. I'm pulling for him. I'm one of his fans. I like the way he goes about his business. He's a brilliant kid and loves to play the game — dirty, dirty tough."
Hogan's road to Denver featured plenty potholes. He landed with the Browns off waivers as a rookie and Cleveland's well-documented struggles pushed Hogan into the spotlight. He appeared in eight Browns' games with one start, a 33-17 defeat versus the Texans, while completing 59 percent of his passes (60 of 101) for 621 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The Browns traded Hogan to Washington in April, and when he failed to win the Redskins' backup job, Hogan hit waivers once again and wound up in Denver. Less than eight weeks into his Broncos' tenure, Hogan has earned the respect of coaches and teammates to fill that No. 2 role.
"Kevin has played in games, he's a smart guy and he has picked it up quick," coach Vance Joseph said. "We have full confidence in Kevin."
High football IQ is a recurring theme for teammates and coaches when discussing Hogan's greatest strengths. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound passer scored a 38 on the Wonderlic test entering the draft, second only to Carson Wentz (40) among 2016 quarterbacks, and well ahead of Denver's No. 26 overall pick Paxton Lynch (18).
"(Hogan) is always coming up with new things to put in," Cracraft said. "He's discussed those with me and I'm sure coaches. It kind of gives me a sense that he's a pretty sharp dude. I don't see him struggling at all. He seems like a guy that could come in and know everything. Today was his first day of playing that backup role, and from what I saw, he did a really good job.
"He knows what he's doing. That's what makes him who he is."
Hogan was among the final players to return to his locker Wednesday following a post-practice lifting session to find his stall huddled with reporters, television cameras and lights. The life of a backup quarterback in Denver. Hogan plans to take full advantage of the opportunity.
"The coaches have done a great job of getting me caught up, and I've put in a lot of time and preparation even though I haven't suited up yet," Hogan said. "I always took the game plan seriously and prepared as if I was playing. I'm not going to treat it any differently. I'm just going to put the uniform on."