I don’t know how much of it has to do with the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers are already 1-4 on the season and seemingly don’t have all that much to lose, but it certainly seems as though there is a lot of excitement heading into this game, and for one specific reason: rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges, the undrafted free agent out of Samford, is going to be starting.
Quickly emerging as a fan favorite during training camp, the man they call ‘Duck’ is seemingly transforming into a folk hero, which can be cemented with a good performance and victory tonight against the Los Angeles Chargers. It may be the only game he starts this year—maybe even the only game he’ll ever start in his career—but people who were paying attention when it happened will remember it.
His teammates, even the most veteran among them, certainly will. That includes 11th-year veteran Ramon Foster, who at 33 is the oldest player on the 53-man roster (Ben Roethlisberger, 37, of course is on the Reserve/Injured List).
“He’s excited, which is good”, Foster said of Hodges while being interviewed in the locker room over the course of the past week. “In this business, they don’t know too much about him. We’re still figuring him out too. He’s a guy that’s very sure about himself, and that’s a good thing. If there’s a play to be made, he’s gonna be a guy that looks to make that type of play”.
You kind of have to be that type of guy to throw for not far from 15,000 yards with 111 touchdown passes in college, breaking Steve McNair’s FCS record. That is the extent of what most people who were aware of him before the draft knew about him, but now he’ll be in the national spotlight.
“I’m excited. I believe new stars can be born every year”, Foster said. “I’m not saying he’s gonna come out and just become a superstar, but you just never know. It’s exciting for a young guy like that that’s not timid about the situation”.
Foster himself, of course, originally came into the league as an undrafted free agent. The majority of their starting offensive linemen were undrafted, actually, so they can probably relate to him as well as anybody else.
“I like that”, Foster said of Hodges’ background and story, including the fact that he was passed over for seven rounds. “This is an opportunistic league. Guys jump into starting roles because of somebody else’s misfortune. We’ll see. Careers are built like that”.
Of course, you never know what can happen. These could be the final snaps he ever plays in a meaningful game in his NFL career. Or perhaps down the line he can emerge as a starter. Whatever the future holds, his story begins in earnest now.