He may not be the most interesting man in the world (some may think so), but Devlin Hodges may just be the most confident. He’s a rookie undrafted free agent quarterback out of Samford who trash talks the starting defense while running the scout team. That’s balls. That’s Devlin Hodges.
That’s the story Bud Dupree shared with Jacob Klinger of PennLive following the rookie’s second career start—and the first start that he made that wasn’t due to injury. He completed 14 of 21 passes for over 220 yards, with a touchdown and an interception, recording another win and all but assuring that he will retain the starting job for the remainder of the season.
The veteran outside linebacker recalled an incident in practice, with Hodges telling him that he’s going to beat the defense. “’I’m finna shred y’all, watch this, Bud’”, Dupree noted the quarterback saying. “Every time he completes a pass he looks at me in the eye. So we already knew how Duck was. It’s no surprise for us that he always makes plays like that”.
One thing Hodges showed on Sunday was a fearlessness with the deep ball. He completed four of six deep passes, including a 30-yard touchdown to James Washington. He also connected on two sideline throws to Washington of 31 and 44 yards, the former being the spark that got the offense running in the middle of the second quarter.
As you will recall, Hodges isn’t simply an undrafted free agent. He was an unsigned free agent. While he did receive multiple rookie minicamp invitations, including one from the New York Giants, which he accepted and attended, it’s not often that someone who doesn’t even get signed after the draft makes it very far.
Let alone to the starting lineup by the end of his rookie season, which is where Hodges currently finds himself. And even that has been a winding road. While he had a consistently strong offseason, the team still had Ben Roethlisberger, with Mason Rudolph as the promising second-year player and Joshua Dobbs continuing to do enough to stick around.
But they liked the rookie enough that when they got an offer of a fifth-round pick for Dobbs, they were willing to move him and bring Hodges back—to the practice squad. It wasn’t until Roethlisberger was injured that he was signed to the 53-man roster. And he would never have played had Rudolph not suffered a concussion.
That gave him about a game and a half to play, during which time, perhaps, is when he showed enough to convince Tomlin later on down the road that, if necessary, they could turn to him. Now they have. And he’s starting to show the world that he is who he has always shown himself to be to the defense.