As far as Devlin Hodges is concerned, he’s playing with house money. It’s hard not to look at it that way when you’re an undrafted guy out of Samford in April and then are announced as the starter for the game on the first day of December. That’s a hell of a long way to go in a short period of time.
Through it all, Hodges has presented himself pretty calmly and gathered. He has been poised throughout his experience with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and hasn’t often looked to be in over his head, at least for long, whether that’s been on the practice field or in games, preseason or regular season.
I think a lot of it is I don’t have anything to lose”, he told reporters yesterday, via transcript. “I was undrafted. That is something I have always been. I have always been calm, cool, collected. I think a lot of that comes from getting prepared and being prepared. When you got some guys around me that are as good as they are and can block up front and make the catches and run the ball, it makes my job a lot easier”.
So there’s a lot to unpack there, but of course he doesn’t chalk up his total demeanor to the fact that he’s basically starting when he realistically shouldn’t be, given where he came from. After all, he didn’t even make the practice squad the first time around. Now he’s starting, by coach’s decision, not due to injury.
The fact that he has been with the Steelers throughout the entire process, short of the period between the roster cuts and through the first week of the season, has been a great source of comfort for him as well. He knows the system because he’s been running it since rookie minicamp. He knows…well, most of the guys he’s throwing to.
In other words, he has the foundations around him that allow him to be able to just go out there on the field and play. There is an organic environment he’s in that allows him to be comfortable with what he’s being asked to do. Yet part of it still goes back to his background.
“What I am talking about is going back to being an undrafted guy”, he admitted. “No one probably thought that I would ever be in this situation. There are just a select few in my corner that thought that. I am ready for the game. I am ready to go out there and have fun and get the win”.
House money. Nothing to lose. What’s the worst thing that can possibly happen for Hodges? Even if he goes out there on Sunday and sucks, he’s still going to be the Steelers’ backup quarterback a week later. He’s not going to be cut.
Even if this is his one and only season, he’s a Samford alum who started NFL games and even recorded a win. He can go to the XFL and continue his career in football and perhaps make it back to the big leagues, assuming another team doesn’t give him a chance. And that’s pretty much the realistic worst-case scenario for him.