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The Great Devlin Hodges

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Already one of the top quarterbacks the Southern Conference has ever seen, Devlin Hodges has a reserved seat in history.

With 4,196 more passing yards, Hodges would break the record held by the late Steve McNair as the all-time leading passer in the history of the FCS.

Throughout his career, Samford quarterback Devlin Hodges has been one of the nation's best. When it's all said and done, he may be, historically even, beyond compare. Hodges, entering his senior season, currently has 10,301 passing yards, the third-highest total ever in the famed Southern Conference. With 4,196 more passing yards, not at all unreasonable considering he threw for 4,088 in 2016, Hodges would break the record held by the late Steve McNair as the all-time leading passer in the history of the FCS.

Hodges, in just two full seasons as a starter, is on the verge of moving into the top 25 for both career passing yards and career passing touchdowns. 

After redshirting in 2014, it didn't take Hodges long to settle in. Debuting in week two, he promptly completed 8-of-his-first-10 pass attempts. For good measure, Hodges' first rush went for a touchdown. By late October, he was Samford's starter. In Hodges' first outing atop the depth chart, at Western Carolina, he threw for 399 yards and three scores and ran for 94 yards and another. Hodges led the Bulldogs to three-straight victories to end the year, compiling 919 total yards in wins over Wofford and Mercer.

Season two, for Hodges, came with prominent placing in the media guide. He set new league marks for total offense (4,310), passing yards (4,088), passing touchdowns (36), completions (375) and completion percentage (74.5%), taking Samford to the program's fourth playoff appearance ever. Hodges topped the 400-yard mark four times along the way, setting a new career high with 468 passing yards, and 513 total yards, as the Bulldogs scored 41 points at Mississippi State. Later, Hodges threw for 372 yards and three scores in his postseason debut.  

Last fall saw Hodges move up the charts, with 3,983 passing yards and 31 more touchdowns, both good for second in the conference all-time. Among other highlights, he threw for 516 yards, the third-highest league total ever, at Western Carolina and delivered a 427-yard, three-touchdown performance at fifth-ranked Wofford, where he helped setup a late game-winning score. Pacing Samford to back-to-back playoff bids for just the second time ever, Hodges passed for 396 yards in a rematch with Kennesaw State.

A run at the record books continues. In addition to chasing McNair's iconic mark, Hodges, with 21 more touchdown passes, would become the 15th FCS player ever with 100 such scores. While closing in on numbers very few have reached, Hodges will, first, move past the person who has helped make him the player he has become. Hodges, with 1,063 more yards, will top the total of former Valdosta State Harlon Hill Trophy winner Chris Hatcher, Samford's head coach since 2015. With this student, and this teacher, a passing grade comes with perfection.

For all of Hodges' totals, wins may be his most important count. The Bulldogs have won 15 games the past two years, a tally last bested by Terry Bowden and, further back, Bobby Bowden before him. This fall, Samford will look to make the playoffs for a program-record third straight time. Hodges has, on multiple occasions, been recognized nationally for all that he has done; he has taken his program along with him.

Already one of the top quarterbacks the Southern Conference has ever seen, Hodges has a reserved seat in history. His final season comes with a chance at even more.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports