Teen dream: Jesse Hogan. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
IT WASN'T all Melbourne's doing, but the expectations and pressure on former No. 1 draft pick Jack Watts when he first walked in the door four years ago were enormous.
The Demons are determined not to put 17-year-old Jesse Hogan in the same position. ''Part of that is media driven, part of that is supporter driven. People tend to get excited, especially at this time of the year, and that is up to us to manage and make sure we put everything in place,'' coach Mark Neeld said yesterday, as he sat next to the maturely built key forward.
The club's new high-profile young gun had his official unveiling at AAMI Park just days after the Demons secured access to his services by giving up pick No. 3 in this year's draft to Greater Western Sydney.
The deal also included Melbourne trading away selection 13 to secure midfield dynamo Dominic Barry, on-traded by GWS, and pick 20 from the Giants. ''We do have high hopes for Jesse, however our expectations will be realistic,'' Neeld said.
''As the seasons go, there is not too many teenagers that are stepping straight into the AFL and having an immediate impact,'' he said.
''And we may have been down that road before with Jack Watts and some of the unrealistic expectations that were placed on Jack in the early part of his career.
''We are certainly not doing that with Jesse. We will have a progression plan.''
The West Australian, rated by some as a potential No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft if he were available, is ineligible to play until 2014, so he will play VFL next year.
During his interview with Melbourne, he was asked the question he knew was coming - ''are you worth waiting 12 months for?''.
At 195 centimetres and 97 kilograms, he can run a 20-metre sprint in three seconds - regarded as midfield standard - and has modelled his game on Fremantle star Matthew Pavlich.
''I just said, 'Yeah, I can develop my game really well in that 12 months. It will be a good investment,' '' Hogan said.
The Demons have experience in managing future prospects in this situation. Even though father-son recruit Jack Viney wasn't officially added to the list until this week, he spent a development year with the Demons in 2012. ''He'll be someone to sponge off, and someone who has gone through the same sort of thing,'' Hogan said of Viney.
Still, Melbourne won't take any chances with Hogan - who they believe is well worth the price tag - and even took the step of speaking to rival clubs Gold Coast and Adelaide about how they handled their 17-year-old draftees Jaeger O'Meara and Brad Crouch. That Hogan will have 18 months with the Demons coaching staff and fitness guru David Misson will be a big advantage, Neeld says, when the rising star ultimately gets his chance at AFL level.
''Jesse won't play every week in the VFL next year, there will be some weeks where we might take him out of playing footy and he might emphasise his endurance training or something like that,'' Neeld said.
Hogan has already been partnered up with new mentor Mitch Clark, a fellow West Australian and the other half of what the Demons hope could become a dangerous key forward combination.