'He’s been building for this his entire life:' Isaiah Hodgins is here to stay
One-armed pushups. Reggie Bush TD celebrations. Dad's words of wisdom. Investigating Patrick Peterson's podcast. Go ahead and doubt the Giants' new No. 1 at your own peril.
The Instagram post generated 603 comments and 21,493 likes and, no, Isaiah Hodgins doesn’t have time to bask in the adulation.
His world changes by the hour. No pro football player has levitated from the depths of obscurity this quickly all season. So after posting a photo of himself screaming in the end zone with the word, “Playoffs..?” after his New York Giants secured a postseason berth, Hodgins scrolled through the comments quickly. There were the two clanking wine glasses from Stefon Diggs. A flexed bicep from Zack Moss. An emoji with steam bursting from his nose from Roger Saffold. And so many flames from so many strangers with a few providing a clever new nickname: “Hodg-hims.”
Usually, Hodgins sees what other NFL players have to say. Nothing more. But one comment stopped him cold.
The wide receiver couldn’t help but notice one lengthy comment from the user @seanmarzayy, who informed Hodgins that Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson was just talking about him on his podcast, “All Things Covered,” with ex-corner Bryant McFadden. The fan told Hodgins that Peterson had dissected exactly how he knew which routes Hodgins was running in the Vikings’ 27-24 win over New York on Christmas Eve. He was merely trying to help because, by the time he shared this intel in the comments, the regular season was complete. The Giants knew they’d be facing Minnesota again in the wild card.
Hodgins looked up the podcast and… wow. This fan wasn’t kidding. Peterson delved into their matchup for a good 20 minutes. The impact was twofold. Part of Hodgins was pissed because he felt like Peterson was downplaying his performance. While it’s true the Vikings won that game, Hodgins also had Peterson eating dust this day.
Most importantly, Peterson explained everything he saw in the Giants’ offense.
Hodgins didn’t merely listen to the podcast on Apple or Spotify. He “studied” the video on YouTube. He watched, and re-watched, and re-re-watched the interview several times over. As if this was game tape, he parsed through every detail, and shared the video with all of New York’s receivers. They figured out ways to better disguise their intentions.
“It made me say, ‘OK, this dude clearly didn’t get the message. We’re going to have to come back and really show him the second time,’” Hodgins says. “He was talking about stuff he saw. Stuff within our offense. We went in with a gameplan of, ‘Alright, not only are we going to feed off of stuff he was saying, but we’re not going to be afraid of this dude again. Let’s go attack him. Let’s go show, ‘Hey, we’re here. We heard everything you were saying. We’re going to make sure you feel it this time.’ … If he thinks it’s going to be the same thing over there again, we’re going to go in there and win this time.”
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The Giants’ offense moved the ball at will throughout a 31-24 win with Hodgins, of course, enjoying the game of his life vs. Peterson: eight catches, 105 yards, one touchdown. Hodgins particularly loved how U.S. Bank Stadium would become an ear-splitting rock concert on third down… only to go dead silent after the Giants converted. At that point, all Hodgins could hear was Viking players yelling at each other.
The only bummer? Hodgins wishes he would’ve been able to rub it in. All along, he planned to mention the podcast to Peterson during the game — the two jawed famously throughout their first matchup — but he never got that opportunity in Round 2. With a smile, Hodgins says he was too busy celebrating with teammates.
Hey, it’s hard to blame Patrick Peterson. He’s not alone.
This 2020 sixth-round pick was buried on the Buffalo Bills’ roster for 2 ½ seasons. He only got this chance when the Bills foolishly released him in November and two ex-Bills, GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll, swooped in. The Giants were decimated by injury and needed a wide receiver who knew the offense. Each week, Hodgins’ star only ascends. Each week, his rapport with quarterback Daniel Jones grows. He’s one of the main reasons these Giants have a realistic shot to upset the No. 1-seeded Philadelphia Eagles tonight at Lincoln Financial Field.
What a flurry it’s been. We chatted four weeks ago for this Q&A and then again exactly 48 hours before this next biggest game of his life. To the rest of the world, this is magic. Hodgins appeared out of thin air. Truth is, the signs have been there his entire life. The double moves. Toe taps. Trash talk. Touchdowns. Being exactly where Jones needs him every play. None of this is an accident. Now, Hodgins is on a cross-country tour to make sure everyone remembers his name.
“It’s easy to dismiss someone who’s not a household name yet,” Hodgins says. “But what people have to understand is some people have to work and grind up to that household name. Not everyone is drafted in the first round and has that tag on them right away as a first-round wide receiver with all this fame and notoriety. Some people have to come from the bottom and slowly rise and come up to become a household name.”
This is the player who represents everything Daboll wants the New York Giants to be. The first-year coach turned a roster full of outcasts and practice-squad afterthoughts into a pack of jackals that’s now two wins away from reaching the Super Bowl. Everyone is falling in love with Hodgins because his story is so relatable, but no longer should we view Hodgins through a Rudy lens. This 6-foot-4, 210-pounder from the Bay Area, via Oregon State, is asserting himself as one of the best wide receivers in the sport.
Nobody waves a magic wand and starts torching an eight-time Pro Bowler like Peterson.
Those who know Isaiah Hodgins best insist they’ve always known greatness was coming.
From his father, James Hodgins, who spent nine seasons as an NFL fullback: “You just didn’t know when he was going to be great. … You see him go for 100 yards. There’s years of work that go into it before you see the fruit of it. He’s a guy who was never afraid to put in the work. He has put so much into this moment. He didn’t just arrive to this.”
To Jake Luton, his quarterback at Oregon State: “I’m not surprised. He’s the real deal.”
To Kefense Hynson, his receivers coach at Oregon State. When Hodgins went pro, Hynson told the Buffalo Bills they were getting an “elite” wide receiver. This was a long player who could still could toast corners from the slot. He blocked. He was a monster in the red zone. His lateral quickness on double-moves was scary. Could he run a 4.4? No. But these skills he did possess rarely ever come in the same package. The absence of world-class speed forced Hodgins to perfect everything else. All season, all consumers of Giants football have ripped the team’s receiving corps. Daniel Jones quite obviously needed his own Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown, a legit No. 1 in 2023 to help elevate his game to the next level.
Possibly the Giants unearthed a No. 1 in the form of a waiver claim instead of a trade and a $120 million contract.
“I look at guys like DeAndre Hopkins — those taller, longer guys who aren’t 4.3 guys but have been Hall of Fame receivers — and I don’t know why Isaiah couldn’t be that,” Hynson says. “He’s not an underdog. His path was his path. Now, he has his opportunity to show the world who he is. This is not surprising me. Not the least bit.”
Up next, the Philadelphia Eagles. A new weight class, a new challenge.
There are no framed jerseys or plaques or hardware decorating the walls around Hodgins. On this Zoom call, there’s only the sound of his son thrashing around in his bed above and a football from Hodgins’ Bills days in his hands. Everyone received one of these after Buffalo won the division. Last week, Hodgins earned his first official “game ball.” It hasn’t arrived quite yet and, honestly? That’s fitting. Hodgins doesn’t want to exhale and reflect quite yet.
People are still learning who he’s been this entire time.
At age 7, this was not a player destined for greatness. He loved the sport. Loved watching his Dad play on Sundays. The problem was, he was “scared” and “nervous” and wasn’t sure this was even for him the first year he played. Isaiah Hodgins admits he was a terrible football player.
His father is equally blunt. He labels his son one of the worst players on the entire Pop Warner team.
“He was the kid catching butterflies on kickoff team,” James says. “Not paying attention. Didn’t get the whole concept. Didn’t want a lot to do with it.”
The very next year, Isaiah was the best player on his team and Isaiah remained the best player on every team, every season that point forward. He never even needed to cover a kick on special teams until he was in the NFL. What clicked? Dad laughs. He’s not sure, but there was a kid on the team — Harrison Beemiller — who was a freak athlete at age 7, age 8. “Our Pat Tillman,” he adds. “A beast.” The inner-fire within Isaiah was lit right then. He wanted do everything imaginable to compete with Beemiller.
Says Isaiah: “There’s always those people as a kid, you’re like, ‘Dang. Are you in the right age group?’ I definitely tried to compete and say, ‘Oh, I’ve got to show up.’”
Beemiller remembers this turning point. Hodgins was over at his house and snapped his wrist on the trampoline. Beemiller’s dog had chewed a hole through it. It wasn’t a compound fracture, but it did need reset back into place. The cast was no excuse to slack. During football practices, Dad had his son doing one-arm pushups.
“It was so funny to see him doing one-armed pushups,” says Beemiller, who went on to play at Northern Arizona himself. “How do you even do that? Small details are hard to remember that long ago. But that’s one that’ll never leave my mind.”
By age 9, he was dominant.
Hodgins made everyone else look silly at running back for the “Chandler Sabercats.” He wore No. 25 then because loved Reggie Bush. The 2007 highlights of Hodgins are as bonkers as you can imagine. He resembled a Mini Reggie on toss sweeps… right down to the celebration. After one long TD, with zero defenders nearby, the 9-year-old dove into the end zone like Bush and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Mom and Dad were not pleased.
There have forever been two sides to Isaiah Hodgins: the kind soul who’s very religious and the nasty competitor who crawls underneath the skin of cornerbacks like a parasite. Hodgins was the one instigating fights at school and constantly getting into trouble with teachers. Back when “Heelys” were popular — shoes with wheels on the heels — Isaiah and friends would hide by a gate in his neighborhood. When a car pulled in, he’d crouch low, grab the back bumper and go for a ride. Isaiah was the ringleader. “He always had an adventurous side,” Dad says, “a dangerous side.” And that side always bubbled to the surface when the football was in his hands.
When the Hodgins family moved from Arizona to California, Hodgins continued to dominate… with style. Nobody at Berean Christian High School in Walnut Creek, Calif., was ready for this. Once, Hodgins glided to the end zone on an 80-yard touchdown and waved to the opposing fans. Which drew a taunting penalty. Which drew more anger from pops, who also happened to be his head coach. Whereas James now chuckles when he thinks back to this taunt (“he’s definitely going to let you know when he beats you”), Isaiah’s memory instantly races back to Dad promptly cursing him out on the sideline. As the profanities flew, the aghast faces of other parents said it all.
No yellow brick road was laid out for Isaiah. Anyone who thinks the son of this professional athlete was coddled could not be more wrong. Dad was hard on son most.
Once, he kicked him right out of practice. Told him to go home.
“Man, my Dad was tough on me. He was definitely hard on me but it made me thankful because he saw the potential in me,” Isaiah says. “He used to tell me, ‘All you have to do is work hard and you’ll go to the NFL.’ He said, ‘Trust me. I played nine years in the NFL. I know NFL talent when I see it. Not everybody’s blessed to be 6-4 and move well and have good hands. All you have to do is work hard and stay focused.’”
Countless heart-to-heart conversations served as the foundation for what became a very special relationship. Dad always had wisdom to share on the 45-minute drive home from practice and he’d often pop into Hodgins’ room at 11 or 12 o’clock at night to talk life, talk football.
One specific chat changed Hodgins’ life.
He was a freshman. He was screwing around at practice — acting out once again — when James Hodgins had enough. On the drive home, his language cut like a knife. He flat-out told Isaiah that he was on the wrong path. At this rate? No colleges would offer him anything. All his habits were out of whack: how he trained, how he ate, etc. There was an urgency to Dad’s tone. If Isaiah wanted football to be his future, he needed to fix this all… and he needed to fix it now.
At first, Isaiah was angry. He didn’t know what his father was talking about.
Once he calmed down, Hodgins realized he needed this riot act read to him.
“To keep you humble, to keep you working, to keep you going hard,” he says. “That’s when I just sat there and realized I need to change the path that I’m going. It helped out.”
James Hodgins played for the St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets through Isaiah’s childhood, so it’s true his son was afforded a rare vantage point. The first wide receiver he ever looked up to was Larry Fitzgerald. They even met at the movie theater once and Hodgins got his autograph. Dad could see at a young age that Isaiah wanted to be like Fitzgerald. On the toe-tap reception last week, he had flashbacks to Fitzgerald. On double-moves, he thinks back to Torry Holt, who has chatted with his son over Twitter DMs. But anyone who thinks Isaiah is the benefactor of an NFL Dad would be mistaken. College coaches didn’t flock to Berean because the coach played in the NFL. “Nobody cares about that crap,” James says. “Can this kid play? Yes or no. It’s that simple. Everything he’s got it’s because he’s worked for it.”
His No. 1 message to Isaiah: “Do the extra.” As in, extra work. That’s why spending so much time with Daniel Jones after practice comes so naturally. Further, James Hodgins wasn’t only a fullback. This was an undrafted fullback who was fighting for his NFL life every summer. For a decade. In this household, you better be able to block. No slacking was permitted on run plays in high school, which helps explain why Hodgins was the one springing Saquon Barkley free on the first touchdown of the wild card win. He walled off Vikings outsider linebacker D.J. Wonnum for a full 3 ½ Mississippi count, absurd given their 50-pound difference.
Dad always used a basketball analogy. When your shot’s not falling, you’ve got to play better defense. Get a steal. Dive for a loose ball. Impact the game in other ways. Football demands the same selflessness.
If you’re not getting 10+ targets in a game, there are many other ways to affect the outcome.
“Football is bigger than just a stat line,” James says. “The stat line’s great and everybody loves when you catch touchdowns and you have a lot of catches and you get 100 yards. But you’ve got to be a well-rounded, total player. That’s what you see about Isaiah at receiver. He’s not one of those receivers — and never will be one of those receivers — who says, ‘Well, I don’t do that. I don’t block hard because I catch touchdowns.”
Mainly because of those deep conversations with his father.
At a young age, Dad told him that football mirrors life. Master principles on the field and you’re bound to become a better man. He’d bring up John Wooden. The legendary UCLA basketball coach would attend a basketball seminar and — even though he was the winningest coach of all-time and he is the keynote speaker — Wooden vigorously took notes in the front row. Wooden felt an intrinsic need to learn something new.
That critical conversation in ninth grade set a tone.
All Hodgins did next was catch 76 balls for 1,069 yards with 17 touchdowns as a sophomore, 94 for 1,483 with 23 scores as a junior and 94 for 1,521 with 21 as a senior. Kefense Hynson was an assistant coach at the University of Hawaii then. He recruited Hodgins but the visits to Berean H.S. were more procedural than anything. Both parties knew a talent like Hodgins wasn’t choosing the Rainbow Warriors of the Mountain West over all of these Pac-12 offers, and yet? Hodgins didn’t big-time him. Hodgins was kind, personable and gave Hynson a first impression he’d never forget once he moved to Oregon State himself.
One that’d make Dad proud.
“You could tell that he had a plan and a goal,” Hynson says, “in terms of what he wanted to do with his life.”
Two plays, back-to-back, explain everything any NFL team needed to know about Isaiah Hodgins at Oregon State University.
The Beavers were getting walloped by Oklahoma State in the 2019 opener, 38-16, and faced a third and 8 from their own 29-yard line. Luton, Hynson and Hodgins all chuckle when they think back to this sequence. A dig route was called for Hodgins. He’d need to decisively plant and turn inside the safety. Problem is, mid-play, the safety didn’t back up. The safety was ready to pick it.
Hodgins instinctively turned vertical and threw up his right hand.
Luton had zero clue Hodgins would re-route but thanks to their all their communication, all their reps together, he had the same sixth sense. It’s hard to explain. “I just knew,” the QB says, “by his body language.” He was able to pump, reload and release deep. What looked like a classic double-move was total streetball and Luton hit Hodgins for 42 yards. Dead tired from the play, Hodgins started trotting toward the sideline. Yet when Hynson heard the next play call coming in —a “sluggo,” a slant-and-go — he waved Hodgins back into the game.
Hodgins sucked it up and burnt a DB for 20 more yards.
Once he was tackled, he simply laid on the turf to catch his breath.
Everything NFL teams ever needed to see was right here.
Smarts. “He’s always thinking one step ahead of the defense,” Luton says. “We were always on the same page.”
Grit. “The dude is dog tired,” Hynson says. “That’s Isaiah, man.”
Technique. Hodgins is still surprised he was able to run such “a crispy” sluggo when he was that exhausted.
His size was prototypical and his numbers were perfectly fine that 2019 season. In 12 games, he had 86 receptions for 1,171 yards with 13 touchdowns. The reason Hodgins fell to the 207th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft is obvious. He ran a 4.61 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, 39th amongst 45 receivers. Forty times can be quite deceiving at the wide receiver position because, well, receivers aren’t running in a straight line every single play. But it’s true Hodgins lacks the track speed. As he explains, it’s on every wide receiver to acknowledge your strength and do everything possible to “make it great.” To “own” the best element of your game.
Hynson starts by citing Hodgins’ hands, saying he caught everything. High, low, one hand, two hands. But Hodgins’ secret weapon? Hynson believes his “lateral quickness” is as good as anyone in the NFL, including all those 5-foot-9 players in the slot.
“Everybody’s always enamored with the long speed, the guys who can run down the field really fast,” Hynson says. “But I always thought that at wideout, it's the short-area quickness that serves you best. Isaiah had as good short-area quickness as anybody. For a guy who’s 6-4 — to be able to move that way — I always thought that was awesome.”
And then he’d go ahead and pluck a ball “a full body and a half” behind him vs. Stanford. The Pac-12 was actually quite talent-rich at cornerback in 2019. Hodgins scored three touchdowns against UCLA and eventual Giants teammate Darnay Holmes. He faced 49ers starter Deommodore Lenoir (Oregon) and Vikings starter Camryn Bynum (Cal). He made acrobatic catches in practices all of the time and spent endless hours drilling down the specifics of routes with Luton.
There were days Luton would start walking off the field during workouts and Hodgins would yell, “C’mon! Get back out here. We’re running routes.” Like the Bay Area receiver who made it famous, Stevie Johnson, he learned how getting to a specific spot on the field was more important than running a rigid route diagramed on the board.
The key? Constant communication with your quarterback.
“What he was seeing,” Luton says, “what the defense was doing. He had such a good feel for finding zones. And it helps with his size and his length, he can create separation in his own ways. He’s extremely friendly to throw the ball to and you can always trust that you know exactly where he’s going to be.”
He’s in another quarterback’s ear today.
It just took him 2 ½ years to get back to this point.
This profession breaks you. James Hodgins witnessed it himself. His rookie season— the St. Louis Rams’ 1999 Super Bowl season — teammates outright quit the sport during training camp.
In the middle of the night, they lost it.
The pressure was too much. They packed their bags and drove home.
“They thought the NFL was one thing,” James says, “and found out it was something else.”
Yes, the life lessons continued as Isaiah headed to the NFL. This was the sort of introduction to pro football that could’ve broken the will of a weaker mind. In Year 1, a shoulder injury ended Isaiah Hodgins’ season. In Year 2, he was waived on cutdown day and brought back on the practice squad. In Year 3, same thing. By October, he finally got the call up to the 53-man roster and even caught four passes in a blowout win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. But, as he explained last month, Hodgins was waived yet again in November. This time, another team claimed the receiver before Buffalo could stash him on the practice squad.
Living on the NFL fringes is stressful. Especially when children enter the equation.
Isaiah Hodgins had a son through the madness.
But, again, Dad could relate. James had Isaiah on Oct. 21, 1998, one year before he’d be fighting for his own NFL life as an undrafted rookie out of San Jose State University. Hell, part of him wanted to join those teammates bailing in ’99. But he stuck with it, earned a Super Bowl ring, played in 78 games over the next decade and instilled the same resilience into his sons.
“When you get into the NFL and you have a family, it becomes real,” James says. “High school’s one thing — you’re by yourself. When you have a family, it is so much more real each cutdown day, each time you’re going through that. It’s very intense. That alone breaks a lot of people. A lot of people can’t handle that pressure right there. The NFL is definitely not a job for everybody.”
Isaiah Hodgins never considered packing his bags, never even considered a life outside of football. But, man, he was exasperated. Frustration mounted as the same thoughts raced through his mind.
I know I can play. I know I’m putting in the work.
When am I going to have the opportunity to show it?
When am I going to have the opportunity to prove that to myself? To everybody?
He leaned on his faith… trusting that God was trying to teach him patience. He leaned on his support system… his wife was a rock during the hard times. He told himself that this all would serve as a life lesson for his own son one day. Hodgins viewed his plight as a positive. In Buffalo, he had the opportunity to learn from vets Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, John Brown, Isaiah McKenzie and Emmanuel Sanders. And it was Diggs especially who pulled the inner-mamba out of Isaiah Hodgins. He loved Kobe Bryant as a kid and, in Diggs, he witnessed how a true alpha stays angry and agitated.
As a true WR1, bad intentions are a necessary.
“The attitude of like, ‘Alright, what’s stopping me from my goal?’ The only thing that’s really stopping me from my goal is that one dude who’s standing right in front of you,” Hodgins says. “You have to have that mindset of, ‘I’m going to do whatever it takes. Whether I have to push, shove, crawl, route him up, do anything to get him out of my way and get some yards. Get a touchdown. Do whatever to help my team win. You just have to have that nasty, attack mentality: ‘I’m going to make it a long day for this dude. I’m going to make him not know what’s coming next.’ That’s the fun part for receivers — when it does go your way, seeing how frustrated a DB gets.”
He didn’t turn vindictive. Each day was a chance to learn. Hodgins remembered Dad’s John Wooden story and picked up something different from every Bills receiver.
Even now, Hodgins won’t say a bad word about the team that treated him like a camp body.
“To sit in the same meeting room as Diggs and Beasley,” says Hynson, “and be around that staff and be around a successful operation. That’s not everybody’s experience in life. Right? So much of who you are is your environment. There’s great football players in bad environments that never get to flourish because they’re in bad environments — so you never know what they are. Isaiah’s situation wasn’t that. He was in a great situation in Buffalo. Sure, you want to play early. But being able to learn is huge. The whole thing happened for a reason. To me, it’s a beautiful story.”
The third training camp was Hodgins’ best. He transferred all of his skills over to gameday with a silky-smooth release vs. the Indianapolis Colts in the preseason. Right here was proof that Hodgins could ball and, still, it wasn’t enough. When Sean McDermott decided that Hodgins was not one of Buffalo’s 53 best players last August, Dad could hear the frustration in son’s voice on the phone. Nobody wants to go through OTAs and minicamp and training camp and all those weightlifting sessions to constantly be thrown on the practice squad.
Dad also knew Isaiah would never break.
“They’d flat-out have to kick him out of the NFL and say, ‘You can’t do this,’ before he’d find something else to do.”
Hodgins stayed patient and convinced himself he’d get his chance. Finally, he did. GM Brandon Beane called Hodgins into his office to say the team was releasing him but hoped to bring him back if he cleared waivers. And while his son napped, at around 4 p.m., his agent texted: “Bro! Giants!” A few moments later, the Giants front office reached out to inform Hodgins they had claimed him. Hodgins headed back to One Bills Drive to turn in his tablet and start a new life.
This was his one opportunity. He knew he couldn’t waste it.
Drop two or three balls and, peace. Goodbye. Find a new occupation.
“It sounds crazy because that’s a lot of pressure,” he says. “But that’s the reality. Sometimes, you might only get one or two opportunities. If you blow it, you might not ever be thought of again. If you succeed, they’re like, ‘Let’s give him another opportunity. And another.’ You keep taking and taking it, and that’s how you run away with stuff.”
He hasn’t stopped running since.
When the Giants handed his son this golden ticket, there wasn’t a doubt in Dad’s mind.
“He’s been building for this his entire life,” James says. “He’s wanted to be great.”
The perfect fit
All of these highlight-reel plays currently bringing New York Giant fans back from the dead were fully expected by the wide receiver himself. Yet even Hodgins is shocked by how quickly it’s all come together, how he catapulted into the starting lineup of a playoff team one month after being released.
“I was like, ‘Whoa. That was fast.’”
This union was meant to be. Isaiah Hodgins represents exactly what Brian Daboll says he wants his players to be on this team: Smart, tough, dependable.
Few realize how unbelievably difficult it is to play in this offense. Hodgins can remember all the vets in Buffalo — Diggs, Beasley, Sanders — saying this was the hardest playbook they’ve had to learn in their lives. That’s why Hodgins laughs when he hears fans in New York clamoring for a star No. 1 next offseason. He’s convinced that no player could waltz into this scheme cold and excel.
“Daboll’s offense is hard. Extremely hard,” he says. “There are many great athletes who could be in this offense — great players — who won’t flourish because it's a hard offense to learn.”
Receivers are forced to think on the fly. Different coverages have different alerts — and it’s on both the receiver and quarterback to see the same thing. To the naked eye, a 12-yard completion may seem very simple when there’s actually “50 things flying through that receiver’s head” before the snap. You’ve got to be smart and decisive. Once you know exactly where you’re supposed to go on that given play, Hodgins explains, Daboll then gives you freedom to get to that point however you can. As long as the correct address is punched into your internal GPS, a receiver can take any path he’d like.
No wonder Hodgins is heating up. He’s been in this offense for three years. He was able to have complex conversations with a quarterback he just met. Now, they’re heating up. Hodgins has caught six touchdowns in his last seven games. In his last three contests, he has 236 yards on 20 receptions. Both players are seeing the same thing as the play clock ticks 4 to 3 to 2 to 1 and those “50 things” are racing through their heads.
Jones and Hodgins talk all week. Nonstop.
“If anything, I’m annoying to him sometimes. And he’s annoying to me. Because we’re always, ‘On this I need you to do this’ or ‘What do you see?’ or ‘How do you want me to run the route?’ Or ‘vs. this coverage, I saw on film that they did this.’ There’s always communication and reps between practice, reps after practice, film after meetings. All that extra stuff adds up day by day, week by week.”
This is what his father always preached. Doing “the extra.” Hodgins can’t enter a lab and become a 4.3 receiver. But he always can sharpen his mind. He can hunt down an opposing cornerback’s podcast.
Hynson and Luton are positive that Hodgins is the same worker from those Oregon State days.
“There’s a reason he has gotten to this point in life,” the coach says, “and the formula works.”
Luton notes that “switch” inside Hodgins. One second, he’s the nicest guy in the world. The next? “He has that Bay Area in him.” He starts talking and does not stop.
“The sky’s the limit for him,” Luton says. “I got to play with him. I know the type of worker he is and that he’s going to keep perfecting his craft and continue to get better. We’re excited for him. My three little brothers and my Mom are all the biggest Isaiah Hodgins fans ever. For years, we’ve been saying, ‘He just needs a chance.’ He was stashed away in Buffalo. It’s awesome to see him get his shot and — when you give a guy like Isaiah a shot — you know he’s going to make the most of it.”
He's still scripting this storybook season, too.
He sounds like a man who cannot wait to hear all those boo’s from Philly fans.
Nervous? Heck no. He treated this week exactly as he has treated every week. Isaiah Hodgins got to the Giants facility extremely early in the AM, left extremely late in the PM and uncovered a few more secrets in the film room. For now, he’ll only smile.
“We try to have something cooking every week,” he says. “We’ve got to bring everything we’ve got for this game.”
This sure beats toiling as the seventh wide receiver on a depth chart.
If the Giants win, maybe we’ll even find out how he got so open.
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