Redblacks’ Paul LaPolice wants to ‘lower expectations’ for Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges

Photo courtesy: Pittsburgh Steelers

Ottawa Redblacks’ head coach Paul LaPolice wants to slow down the hype train for Devlin Hodges amid his arrival in the CFL.

Hodges signed a three-year contract with the Redblacks on Thursday, September 16 and he’s currently in Ottawa going through his seven-day quarantine period prior to starting practicing on the CFL field.

“I get he played in the NFL, but we just gotta make sure we lower expectations, like he’s not going to start when he shows up the first day,” LaPolice said on TSN 1200 radio in Ottawa.

“He’s a good young player that the personnel department has had their eye on for a long time. He had a great college career and was fortunate to get some NFL playing time.”

The 25-year-old played in eight NFL games, six as the starter, all with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He completed 100-of-160 passes (62.5 percent) for 1,063 yards with five touchdowns and eight interceptions and rushed 21 times for 68 yards while compiling a 3-3 win-loss record.

“We have a young quarterback on the roster that we can start to look at and develop, that’s the process more than all of a sudden playing the guy. I don’t know too much about his personal background and the duck calling,” LaPolice said.

In his four years at Samford University, Hodges was named the Southern Conference Player of the Year three times. In 2018, a season in which Hodges set an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision record for passing yards in a career, he earned the Walter Payton Award. During 45 games, Hodges completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 14,584 yards with 111 touchdowns and 41 interceptions during his storied career at Samford.

“He’s got a very high completion percentage, very high touchdowns, very low interceptions, some mobility and certainly been successful in his college career. This is a guy who started a lot of football games. You want a guy that’s played a lot of games and he’s done that,” LaPolice said.

The veteran head coach has been in the CFL since 2000 and he’s seen many quarterbacks enter the three-down league while developing as an offensive guru. Time after time in the past he’s seen decorated signal callers come north of the border and struggle, even just in practice let alone developing into a starting QB, quickly.

“They don’t understand the fact that you throw the ball so much up here. It’s usually 70-30 or 65-35 passes to runs. You have to have a guy who is very accurate as a thrower,” LaPolice said.

“You gotta throw it almost 70 percent of the time, that’s the biggest obstacle — they gotta be accurate and a lot of times guys come up and just don’t have the accuracy. The quarterbacks really have to understand the width of the field and I think when they get up here, they’re like: ‘Oh my god.'”

Ottawa is hoping Hodges assimilates to the CFL game as well as projected on paper based on his numbers in the NCAA.