A new face will Duck into the lineup on Saturday in Hamilton.
Other than providing an outlet for cheesy wordplay, Devlin “Duck” Hodges will dress for his first career CFL game against the Tiger-Cats this weekend, serving as the No. 2 man behind starter Caleb Evans.
First things first, for those who haven’t heard the story behind the nickname, which the quarterback himself acknowledges doesn’t usually go “hand in hand” with his position, here’s the gist: Hodges is both an avid duck hunter and a world championship duck caller and his coach at Samford started using the moniker during his college days. It stuck. Bigtime.
Video Credit: Pittsburgh Steelers / Youtube (Link)
While his hobbies and affable, approachable and Southern charm-filled personality almost make his three-year contract worth it on their own, the 25-year-old from Kimberley, Alabama is also a pretty good football player. A gunslinger, as the player himself and former Pittsburgh teammate/REDBLACKS star Diontae Spencer put it.
“He can process information; he’ll make a decision and throw the ball quickly,” says Head Coach Paul LaPolice of Hodges, who is expected to take reps in short yardage situations for his first game.
Duck’s football abilities earned him the opportunity to get on the field as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019, starting six games in place of the injured Ben Roethlisberger. His personality, however, is what turned him into something of a cult legend with the Steelers, with fans showing up at games with duck whistles and duck hats. Fans still regularly demand on social media that Hodges return to Steeltown and, good sport that he is, Hodges continues to engage with many of them. Quack back, if you will.
But Duck is happy to be a REDBLACK. He loves Ottawa, his second stop in Canada other than a previous hunting trip to Saskatchewan, and he’s excited to show what he can do, even if that comes in a support role.
“I’ve been in this position before, you just always have to be prepared,” he says. “There’s definitely some excitement at being able to dress because I’m not used to being on the sideline with sweats on. It’s going to be fun.”
Though Duck has been practising with Ottawa for a month, the pivot has never played in Canada and the coaching staff didn’t want to rush him as he learned the CFL rules, the playbook and the LaPolice system. In other words, they didn’t want to fowl up his progression as a REDBLACKS quarterback.
Three downs instead of four and the extra man on the field are both part of the American-to-Canadian football learning curve, though Duck is a fan of the bigger endzones north of the border (“You can do a lot more when you get closer to the goal line’). He’s willing to put in the work to learn every aspect.
“I mean, a lot of it is just going to come with getting some reps, getting some experience,” he says. “But it’s all been great; I’ve really enjoyed the guys, it’s a great group of coaches. I’m excited to be part of this organization and excited to see what the future holds. I’m a REDBLACK now.”
About Devlin “Duck” Hodges:
Weight: 210 lbs
Born: Kimberly, Alabama
College stats: 45 GP, 1,310/1,896 completions,
14,584 yards, 111 touchdowns, 41 interceptions
NFL stats with Pittsburgh: 8 GP (6 starts), 3-3, 100/160,
1,063 yards, 5 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 3 wins