/D’Lo’s finest KhaDarel Hodge somehow perseveres all the way to the Super Bowl

D’Lo’s finest KhaDarel Hodge somehow perseveres all the way to the Super Bowl

D’Lo’s 390 citizens can be proud to have a Super Bowl player on Sunday. Meet KhaDarel, a 23-year-old rookie wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams. He is also an aspiring male model. We’ll get to the modeling, but we know this: Neither the New England Patriots nor the Rams could have chosen a more unusual or complicated route to play in the biggest game of football. Hodge stated that he had taken the long way to get there in a telephone conversation earlier in week. “I had to go through the difficult way. It has not been easy, but it was hard for me. It makes me appreciate the game and being here more.” Michelle Hodge says of her son, “Big Red”, that he never gave up no matter what. Can you believe it? That boy is going to be playing in the Super Bowl. Hodge’s tale is one of perseverance and overcoming long odds. It is also one of hard work, dedication, and believing in oneself. Hodge was raised by his single mother and her preacher father. He also had a twin sister (Little Red), and two brothers. In 2013, Hodge, a left-handed, do it all quarterback for the Mendenhall Tigers in 2013, was defeated by Magee in what is now the Simpson County Super Bowl. Hodge was also a star in basketball, and was a regular honor roll member. He didn’t perform well enough to merit a scholarship to one of the bigger Mississippi schools. Hodge stated that Ole Miss, Southern Miss and State recruited him but wanted to make sure he played defensive back. “I wanted to be a quarterback,” he said. He believed he could become the next Steve McNair. He red-shirted his freshman year and left to find a better opportunity to play. His transition from wide receiver to wide receiver was slow when he landed at Hinds Community College. Dwight Wilson, Hinds’ position coach, said that KhaDarel arrived at fall practice with a fractured thumb. Broken thumbs are not good for learning how to play wide receiver. Hodge pulled his hamstring after he got past that. Wilson stated that Hodge was injured for the entire season. Wilson said that he was only healthy for two games but showed his best in those. He was a skilled player. He was able to reach up and grab the ball. He was intelligent, just like an old coach on the field. He was a great coach and I really looked forward to his second year at Hinds.” Prairie View A&M was able to offer him a scholarship, and convinced him that they would use him as a wide receiver. He was an All-Southwestern Athletic Conference wide receiver at Prairie View. He caught 21 touchdowns in three seasons. He was expecting to be drafted in 2018 NFL Draft. But he wasn’t. He was not offered a contract, and he was also denied undrafted free agents. Finally, he received a call from the Rams. They didn’t offer him any contract. He was offered a chance to try out. He applied and did well, but no contract was given. He returned to D’Lo and continued working hard, waiting for a call. He didn’t give up. He believed that all he needed was a chance. KhaDajah, his twin sister, told him, “Don’t you know how pray?” KhaDarel went into his room and did exactly that. Believers will no doubt call the next event Divine Intervention. Doubters will call this coincidence. Hodge took his phone along on a run. The phone rang. It was the Rams. In training camp, they needed another receiver. KhaDarel Hodge got his chance. He said, “That’s all that I wanted.” He caught eight passes for 100 yards in four preseason games and one touchdown. He was also a great player on special teams. This is what probably earned him a job. Tayor Morton (a Rams scout who was also a former Hinds CC Coach) said that he did everything they asked. He was always making plays. His coaches loved him. He is a quiet, humble guy who takes care of his business.” Hodge, who was cut in the final preseason game, was signed to the Rams practice team the following day. Hodge was promoted to the active roster in September 18 and began contributing to special teams, particularly kickoff and punt coverage. Hodge states, “It’s amazing that I hadn’t played special teams other than returning kicks. Never. Not even in high school.” “But, hey! If that’s what they need. “I’ll do what they ask.” Kick coverage takes speed, toughness, and courage. Hodge has all three. Hodge was a part of the Rams’ NFC Championship win over the Saints. He made two tackles. Hodge stated that almost everyone he knows from Simpson County supports the Saints. Michelle Hodge attended a watch party to celebrate the NFC Championship. She said, “Everyone had on a Saints jersey/t-shirt except me.” Strangely, the Rams have played in New Orleans three times – the preseason, regular season, and playoffs. Michelle Hodge was present at the first two. She had planned to attend the Super Bowl in Atlanta, but her father, Rev. James Hodge was admitted to hospital with a serious kidney problem. Her oldest son and nephew will be attending the big game, but she’ll remain home to care for her dad. KhaDarel Hodge stated that he will always have his grandfather and mother in mind as he takes to the field on Sunday. Hodge will continue his promising modeling career, regardless of how he does. When the Rams called in July, Hodge was busy with photo shoots and building a portfolio. He also considered hiring an agent. He said, “Since then it’s all football.” He will be remembered for his broad shoulders, well-built physique, and eight-pack abs when he returns to posing. Michelle Hodge, D’Lo’s best, said that “Big Red” has always been a handsome boy.