Johnny Hodges almost quit football last year before committing to TCU


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Towards the end of a 20-hour odyssey as they crossed from Darnestown into Texas, Brian and Johnny Hodges came across a bridge.

“Johnny, I didn’t know there was water in Texas,” Brian recalled to his son Sunday afternoon, the day before Johnny completed his improbable journey as the starter for TCU in the national title game against Georgia. “We were very ignorant about Texas. We didn’t know anything about Texas.”

Johnny Hodges, now a junior and key cog in the Horned Frogs’ defense, arrived in Fort Worth under very unlikely circumstances, and the story has been improbable ever since. After his second year at the United States Naval Academy, Hodges was ready to step away from the football team and transition to a life without sports. His father encouraged him to enter the transfer portal, and after no offers came, Brian Hodges began writing letters to coaching staffs around the country.

“Nothing happened,” Brian told The Post. “No one answered these letters.”

TCU quarterback Johnny Hodges
TCU quarterback Johnny Hodges almost quit football.
AP

“It was a dark time in my life,” said Johnny Hodges. “I thought football was over. I thought I would move on to the next chapter of my life without sports. It was a dark, dark time.’

Eventually, one reached the TCU staff, where Joe Gillespie was hired as defensive coordinator. Gillespie has been working at Tulsa, the AAC team that regularly plays Navy since 2015, and Hodges didn’t need to be told who he was. And so the only offer he needed came.

A fight broke out from there. young Hodges received the necessary documents for his release from the Naval Academy on Friday evening and was to be at TCU by Sunday afternoon to meet with Gillespie. Father and son got into Johnny’s Toyota 4Runner in Darnestown at 5:30 a.m. Saturday and started driving.

They made an overnight pit stop in Arkansas, then returned at 8 a.m. the next morning.

“We called the coach [Gillespie] and said, Hey, we’re running a few minutes behind, but we’ll be there, Brian Hodges said. “He is, don’t worry. See you when [you] come here.”

They arrived on Sunday, January 9; 365 days later, Hodges will take the field Monday night at SoFi Stadium and play for a national championship.

“It’s surreal,” he said. “This is what everyone dreams of all their lives. “Every kid who grows up playing football wants to be on that big stage and reach that level.”

The father, like the son, is still trying to keep his head.

“Man, you can never have anything better than that,” Brian Hodges said. “You know, they kept standing in line. Tomorrow is the national championship. I mean, it’s pretty cool. I was speechless. It’s amazing.”

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