PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — When Dionysius Hogan signed to play football at the University of Northern Iowa last month, it marked a milestone in his life.
He proved the doubters wrong again.
He says people doubted he could be a standout player in both basketball and football. He is.
The naysayers said he couldn’t succeed in sports and do well in school. Hogan is a straight A student. And, he says, some were skeptical he could get a Division I scholarship.
“A lot of people doubted me. I doubted myself, I didn’t think I’d come this far,” the wide receiver said. “I worked hard and stayed true to myself.”
Growing up in Peoria, Hogan wasn’t sure if he’d play basketball or football beyond high school. But his goal was to stay off the streets and get to college.
“The streets I was raised on… ” Hogan said with a pause. “I was a street boy trying to take the school route. The other option is doing something to make money. I didn’t have much money. I work two jobs.”
Hogan is still waiting to play his first game of his senior year at Peoria High School. The basketball season is on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic and the fall football season was postponed to spring.
“There’s a lot of things outside of school that recruit just as hard as the things in school. If we don’t make our program as attractive as we can, someone is making there’s as attractive as they can,” said Peoria High football coach Tim Thornton of the gangs. “I’m proud of him for dodging distractions that some of his friends were unable to do.”
Hogan wants to be the next example of a Peoria High grad who stayed away from the lure of the streets to chase after college football success. He’s the next player on a a Division I pipeline that includes Geno Hess (Southeast Missouri State), Kendrick Green (Illinois) and Coran Taylor (Illinois).
“It feels so amazing I’m down the pipeline. It’s hard to do that with so many distractions,” Hogan said. “Being in Peoria in general is so hard but I did it. I’m happy. I’m blessed.”