by Eleanor McGee
Wide-receiver Ben Hogg truly epitomizes the Cavalier motto of pay it forward.
The Curry school graduate student has been inspired by his coaches and fellow teammates throughout his football career. He hopes to be viewed by the younger members of the team not only as a leader, but as someone they can turn to when they need help on and off the field.
“I really enjoy working with them and trying to show them a path and help them through some of the things I went through when I first got here.” Hogg said.
Hogg’s desire to help those around him is a direct result of his own recruiting process and playing experience UVA.
In high school, Hogg found incredible support from coach Jamar Lovelace. He acted as a mentor and pushed Hogg to have a strong foundation and be a highly-motivated player.
“He showed me, from an early age, that I had to work for the things on the field that I wanted,” Hogg said. “I am very thankful for him.”
Hogg implemented this advice and started working out before school. However, due to his smaller frame, he found the recruiting process to be a challenging one.
He was offered several preferred walk-on spots, but UVA became his top choice after a visit from former Virginia coach, Anthony Poindexter.
While he couldn’t offer Hogg any promises, he guaranteed that if he worked hard and was committed to getting time on the field, he could make a name for himself at UVA.
“I wanted to go to a place that had high academics and sports and hearing some refreshing, honest recruiting made me think ‘I want to go there’.” Hogg said. “I made the decision and haven’t looked back since.”
When Hogg arrived in Charlottesville, assistant coach Marques Hagans immediately became an integral part of his life. He provided unconditional support from the start. His commitment to players was something Hogg personally experienced from day one.
During one of his first training sessions, Hogg tore his ACL. It could have been an isolating experience. However, Hagans acted as an invaluable pillar of support throughout his recovery, making sure that Hogg still felt like he was a part of the team.
“Coach Hagans did not know a lot about me and he was in my hotel room every night after my surgery, bringing the rest of the (wide receiver) group in, talking to me, making sure I was good.” Hogg said. “I did not know a whole lot about this place and that was an ‘I’m at home’ moment. I realized I have someone here who cares and that’s what probably got me through that the most.”
Hogg views coach Hagans as family. He respects him both on and off the field and has continually relied on him as a source of guidance throughout his time at Virginia.
“He is just an awesome guy who I can’t thank enough for all the things he has done for me,” Hogg said. “He’s taught me so much. I watch him every day and I want to be like him.”
This immense level of respect is also a central aspect of Hogg’s relationship with former wide receiver, Canaan Severin.
“He took me under his wing and just put in tons of work and hours,” Hogg said. “Through that, I created a bond with him that will last for the rest of my life. I really just looked up to him and wanted to know what he was doing. We would always joke because we would just see each other around McCue, trying to get better and we didn’t even have to tell each other when to be there because we were always there.”
Severin and Hagans have inspired Hogg with their actions, ones he wishes to replicate both with the younger members of the team and in his career. His gratitude is demonstrated in his actions towards his teammates.
“My one goal is to be able to show that to somebody else coming in here, who is maybe struggling.” Hogg said.
His compassion for others is something that is easily recognizable both on and off the field. He wants to pay it forward and is willing to go the extra mile to prove it. The most recent example being his willingness to dress up as a scarecrow for Raygan Batton. She was a Thursday’s hero, a cancer survivor at the age of seven, and one of her favorite movies is the Wizard of Oz.
“Two things that I think about every day is what am I willing to sacrifice and how consistent can I be and those are the two things that kind of set precedent over all else and has really kept me going.” Hogg said. “I am very thankful to be here and be around this team, this program.”
This philosophy is echoed in his goal of becoming a college coach one day. He hopes to help future players the way coach Lovelace, coach Hagans, and Severin have aided him.