By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
— After confirming Friday night that he had backed out of his verbal commitment to play at the University of Southern Mississippi, Mortimer Jordan quarterback Devlin Hodges has announced where he will attend instead — and done so in that most-21st Century of ways, Twitter, followed up by a confirmation on Facebook’s Messenger chat feature.
Hodges announced Sunday night that he will switch to Samford University in Homewood. His tweet read: “After talking to my family & praying about it. I feel like the best fit for me for college is at Samford University! #GoBulldogs”
Hodges told The North Jefferson News after Friday’s game at Pinson Valley that he had changed his mind, but held off saying where he was going instead. “I wanted to announce it on my own, plus I didn’t want to take focus off my team,” Hodges said Sunday night.
The senior quarterback said the Bulldog program just felt right.
“To be honest, I loved Samford, and the coaching staff the first time I visited there — just got that ‘feeling’ — and it kept coming back and coming back. And I think I will have opportunity there both on the field and off,” he said.
Even though Hodges was very public about his verbal commitment to USM — which, like all verbals in college recruiting, is not binding until the papers are signed — other schools still kept in touch with him. “I still received mail and stuff, of course. I do from lots of places,” he said.
Samford had been on Hodges’ radar early on, and he was on theirs. “I just really feel bonded with those [Bulldog] coaches, and I think I knew it was right for me and maybe ignored that feeling at first. I didn’t consider anywhere else but Samford [after withdrawing the USM verbal],” he said.
“I think they are doing great things, they will be able to compete for a national championship, the education is second to none, it’s an in-state program, [with a] beautiful campus, top-notch facilities and coaches.”
And the campus close to home, right?
“That, too. My family is important,” Hodges added. “But that isn’t the determining reason. I looked at the offers I had, and at more than just football. I needed to figure out the right fit for me all around.”
He also got some sage advice from Trent Dilfer, the former NFL Pro Bowl quarterback who’s now an analyst for ESPN.
“Trent Dilfer told me I’d know the place, and you would know it’s right and have that ‘feeling,’ and that it doesn’t matter about division or what-not, and that’s what I get with Samford,” Hodges said. “Hhe told me that at Elite 11 [off-season camp], and i think he is absolutely right, because my thoughts always kept going back there. I think Coach [Travis] Trickett can really help me be the best, and I can really help Samford.”
(Trickett is the quarterback coach and co-offensive coordinator for the Bulldogs.)
Mortimer Jordan has struggled to start the new season, with losses to Pleasant Grove and Pinson Valley. But the offense has shined nonetheless, and Hodges remains optimistic.
“I think by the end of the season, this team MJ is going to surprise some people! We just have to keep working, and improving week to week,” he said.