Meet the man who dubbed Steelers QB Devlin Hodges as ‘Duck’
Devlin Hodges’ college and high school coaches agree the undrafted rookie quarterback who will start Sunday for the Pittsburgh Steelers successfully walks that fine line between confident and cocky.
“But if you think he’s confident in football, you get talking duck-calling, that’s when you’ll hear the bragging,” Samford coach Chris Hatcher said. “I mean, you would think ‘Duck’ invented it.”
“Duck,” of course, is the nickname given to Hodges because of his love of duck hunting and the national duck-calling competition he won as a youth.
Steelers Inside the Ropes: Devlin ‘Duck Dynasty’ Hodges making plays for Steelershttps://t.co/Tv1XpzYkis
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) August 7, 2019
And while the origin of Hodges’ nickname, by now, has been known to Steelers fans since Hodges began opening eyes during training camp in August at Saint Vincent, Hodges never definitively identified exactly who first dubbed him “Duck.”
Speaking by phone this week, Hatcher sought to set the record straight.
“I don’t like to take credit for many things,” said Hatcher, who teaches the Air Raid offense that allowed Hodges to set the career FCS passing yardage record, “but I have already gotten on him for this: In all his interviews, he (merely) says, ‘My coach gave me the name.’ I gave him the name!
“ ‘Duck’ is not a great nickname for a QB, (because the term ‘duck’ can mean a poorly-thrown pass), but I’m just an old simple guy from Macon, Ga., and ‘Devlin’ was just hard for me to say all the time … So he got talking about (his duck-calling skills), and I got to picking at him a little bit about it, and I said, ‘Man, I just am gonna start calling you Duck.’ And it kinda stuck. In fact in my phone, it says ‘Duck Hodges’ in there. It kinda took off from there.”
Hatcher playfully implies he owns the intellectual property of the “Duck” nickname, and Samford could reap the benefits.
“I’m working with him right now, saying, ‘Man if you can really tear it up in the NFL, we can come out with the Duck brand of camouflage, Duck brand anything,’ ” Hatcher said.
“I did tell him, ‘You know what? You owe me big-time.’ ‘What? What for?’ … I (in the past) told him, ‘You’re gonna make (an NFL) team just because you got the nickname Duck. That’s how you are gonna make the team. So when you sign that first contract, hey, I need a couple million to build a new stadium down here. We will call it the Duck Hodges Stadium.’ ”
This is Bud Dupree talking about the Steelers confidence in Devlin Hodges. — and calling him “Duck” 5 times in 7 seconds pic.twitter.com/Rv2P8FBbEP
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) October 6, 2019
A disciple of former Kentucky coach and visionary spread-offense pioneer Hal Mumme, Hatcher’s tenure at Samford coincided with the start of Hodges’ career that would culminate in winning the Walter Payton Award (the FCS Heisman) and breaking Steve McNair’s 25-year-old career FCS passing-yardage record (Hodges finished with 14,584).
Hatcher is proud of Hodges, but he jokes he might take more pride in the lovable nickname.
“There’s no question about it,” Hatcher said. “I won’t ever say I ever taught him anything while he was here, but I did give him that nickname.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .