It’s been a long journey from Milan to Minsk for Devlin Hodges. The undersized quarterback ended up playing his college ball at an FCS school, where he would go on to break the record for the most passing yards thrown in a career. He proceeded to go undrafted, and then unsigned, though he received an invitation by the Pittsburgh Steelers to participate in their rookie minicamp.
That was the point at which he began proving himself week in and week out to anyone that mattered. Over the course of three days, he outperformed first-year Brogan Roback, prompting the team to waive him and instead sign Hodges to the 90-man roster.
He proceeded to turn heads throughout OTAs and all the way through the preseason, where he saw a disproportionate share of the snaps for a number four quarterback, a clear signal that the Steelers were taking him and his viability seriously.
While generally working well within the scope of the opportunities that he was provided, it wasn’t enough for the team to conclude that he was one of their three best quarterbacks. Behind Ben Roethlisberger, they decided that Mason Rudolph would be the backup, and Joshua Dobbs would be the number three.
After being offered a fifth-round pick for Dobbs, however, they made the trade and signed Hodges to the practice squad. A season-ending injury to Roethlisberger a week later saw him promoted to the 53-man roster as Rudolph’s backup.
Now with Rudolph in the concussion protocol, the rookie undrafted free agent is getting first-team reps for the first time and preparing to make his first NFL start after showing promise in his debut on Sunday filling in for the second-year man.
“I tell everyone I think it fits who I am”, Hodges told reporters yesterday about the journey he has undertaken so far in the NFL. “I never once didn’t think I would be here or could be here. It is crazy, especially to be gone Week One and then coming back on the practice squad”.
“Some of the guys on the team were like, “it felt like you were gone forever’”, he added. “But then Ben going down and being brought up and Mason getting the concussion last week and getting thrown in. It is just crazy. It is a crazy process”.
There’s still a long road ahead for Hodges to really prove anything of himself. He only has a handful of pass attempts to his name, and his future is as yet unwritten. But he knows that if his story is one of success, that it will have been because of who he is.
“Even from the beginning, coming here on like a tryout, I told some people before that if five years from now or 10 years, if I am still playing in the NFL, this whole kind of story just fit who I am”, he said. “It just shows that hard work and confidence in yourself and belief in yourself, you can accomplish your dreams”.