ALBANY — Starting at attack as a freshman for the UAlbany men’s lacrosse team immediately invokes the specters of some of the most vaunted names in college lacrosse. Names like Lyle Thompson, Miles Thompson, Connor Fields and Tehoka Nanticoke.
Graydon Hogg knows the legacy he’s about to join, but he doesn’t want to make any bold claims about where his name will stack up among that elite company.
“I’m not coming out here saying, ‘I want to break all of these records,’” Hogg said following practice Wednesday at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. “I just want to come out and play each game as hard as I can.”
When UAlbany opens its season Saturday at 1 p.m. at home against Cornell, Hogg — a 5-foot-9, 175-pound freshman from Oshawa, Ontario — is slated to start at attack alongside Nanticoke and reigning America East Offensive Player of the Year Jakob Patterson.
A highly touted recruit out of the powerhouse program at The Hill Academy in Vaughn, Ontario, Hogg came onto campus at UAlbany with head coach Scott Marr expecting him to contribute immediately.
With Patterson held out of the Great Danes’ preseason scrimmages against Siena and St. John’s while making his way back from an offseason knee injury, Hogg stepped into the spotlight and cemented his spot in the starting attack.
“He emerged, for sure,” Marr said. “It gave him a good opportunity to be in there and take on a deeper role.”
In particular, the chemistry of the Nanticoke-Hogg partnership has rapidly developed.
“We both grew up playing in a similar background — indoor, in Canada, playing at a high level,” Nanticoke said.
“He can feed from anywhere on the field,” Hogg said of Nanticoke. “As long as my stick’s open, he’ll hit it. He’s a pretty spectacular player. I’m privileged to be playing with him.”
Hogg’s rapid ascension at UAlbany is no surprise at all to his high school coach, Kyle Kallay.
Since opening in 2006, The Hill Academy has produced an impressive list of alumni who have gone on to make major impacts in college and professional lacrosse. One of them, Cornell’s three-time All-American attackman Jeff Teat, will be lining up across the field from UAlbany in the Great Danes’ season-opener.
According to Kallay, Hogg fits that same mold thanks to his “all-in” mentality.
“He doesn’t dip his toe in the water, he dives right in and gives 100%,” Kallay said. “I think that’s why he was so successful here, because what you put in is what you’re going to get out. He made the most of his four years here.”
Hogg’s 100% commitment extended to his college commitment. He made his decision to attend UAlbany in 2016.
From that point, Kallay said, Hogg never wavered in his choice, nor did he or several other teammates who committed early ever begin to coast.
“It’s not an easy thing. Some kids can put their feet up and rest on their commitment,” Kallay said. “But, they really wanted to make sure they made an impact when they got to where they were going. … He was part of a really special group, and he was obviously a huge leader within that group.”
Hogg is the latest of several connections between UAlbany and The Hill Academy. Great Danes assistant coach Merrick Thomson spent six years as the head coach of the Pride before joining the UAlbany staff in 2016, while Marr’s son Kyle played for Hill as a postgraduate in 2015 following his time at Shenendehowa High School and before moving on to play college lacrosse at Johns Hopkins.
Hogg was primarily a two-way midfielder at The Hill Academy, producing 46 points as a senior in 2019. The transition to attack for the Great Danes has been made simple, Hogg said, thanks to the talent around him.
“I’m obviously playing with some pretty great players,” he said. “I’m just kind of working off them, playing my game, filling in spots and putting the ball in the back of the net.”
Two years ago, Nanticoke came in as the top recruit in the nation and immediately dazzled with 50 goals and 32 assists as part of a lethal partnership with Fields that led UAlbany to its first NCAA Final Four.
After last season’s disappointing 5-9 effort, Nanticoke said he and the rest of the UAlbany program are ready to hit the reset button. Hogg, he said, will immediately help to inject some new energy into the team.
“We play the game similar,” Nanticoke said. “We’re good in tight, and we’re gritty.”