PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges is nicknamed “Duck.”
An undrafted rookie, Hodges came to Pittsburgh just as well known for his prowess as a national champion duck caller as he did as a quarterback at little-known Samford.
That has quickly changed.
Hodges came to Pittsburgh as a rookie camp tryout in May. He could very well start the team’s Week 6 games against the Los Angeles Chargers, with the status of Mason Rudolph uncertain.
Hodges has handled the breakneck pace of his NFL ascension with a certain unflappable nature that might also be comparable to a certain waterfowl.
Hodges even made the comparison himself on social media.
— Devlin Hodges (@DevlinHodges10) October 8, 2019
He said after practice on Wednesday that the post was kind of a joke, but there is some truth to in that his behind-the-scenes preparation is what allows him to look and be comfortable when thrust into big moments like he was Sunday.
“When it comes to football, I always prepare like I’m going to be the guy,” Hodges said. “That’s why, when I was thrown out there, I wasn’t nervous. I was prepared and confident. I have a lot of belief in myself. The nerves are still there, I might just doing a better job of hiding them.
“Honestly, I tweeted it out kind of as a joke, being silly. It is kind of true. You’ve gotta be calm, cool, collected with what everyone sees. But there’s a lot of hard works that goes behind the scenes that no one sees.”
Hodges is confident in his abilities. An All-American at the FCS level, he’s had a ton of success as a collegiate quarterback and he hasn’t let his undrafted status change the way he thinks about his own game. He believes he can be a successful NFL quarterback.
“I never once didn’t think I could be here or would be here,” Hodges said. “It’s crazy, especially crazy being home Week 1, coming back on the practice squad … I felt like I’d been gone forever. With Ben going down and getting brought up and Mason getting a concussion this week, it’s just crazy. It’s a crazy process.”
The one pitfall of that crazy process is that Hodges got thrown into the fire against Baltimore and could be making his first start this Sunday without the kind of typical progression that a young, unheralded quarterback makes before assuming that role.
He didn’t even start a preseason game while still stuck behind Ben Roethlisberger, Rudolph and Josh Dobbs on the depth chart. He’s been on the sideline in uniform for a regular season game just three times and he’s thrown a grand total of nine NFL passes.
The job he’s aspiring to has one of the steepest learning curves around, so there will be adjustments to be made.
“Obviously, he lacks a lot of experience in the things that go with experience,” head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. “But I like his demeanor. I like his steady-eddie attitude and approach to it. I think that is an asset to him and us in the present circumstance.”