Until this past season, Shay Hodge held the Ole Miss Rebels all-time record in receiving yards and was second in school history in receptions and touchdown catches. But, he went undrafted and injuries would defer his dream of getting his big break in the NFL.
“It was very devastating,” said Hodge. “A lot of people don’t know I went through depression about that because I always as a child dreamed of being a professional athlete and what my ultimate goal went downhill due to injuries and not anything that I’d done personally. It hit me hard. It made me find God even harder to be able to deal with that.”
He said his battle with depression has inspired him to write a book, to get more athletes to open up.
“I just know by looking at certain situations I don’t know I just look at certain players and to how they are and what their goals are. And like hi is going to hit them if they don’t make it like. But it’s not meant to be a guy. They are open up and even say like they are going drafting nearby to try to mask their fears or embarrass me as you know and I try to tell a lot of people like you are human like everybody’s human. Stop acting like you didn’t go through this too so.”
“So imagine how many guys they already goes through this. They had those same thoughts of hey I want to go to the NFL from a little boy and they have a nice college career and you think he’s gonna catapult you to where you want to be and then Ultima is like ah it didn’t happen like what I do Nate because a lot of guys we are it’s a lot of athlete we be thinking what do we do next. You have to reinvent yourself and it’s something I had to do and figure out. What was next what I’m going to do how am I going to execute this plan to be able to be successful at life other than just football.”
And, for Hodge, that’s coaching.
“Hey this was God’s calling, he let me be good. Really great in high school. Let me be really good in college. Now it’s time for me to give back to these kids.”
Hodge said he pays more attention to kids people deem as troubled, like he was as a child.
“That’s how I was growing up my mom can really get to me because I guess because she’s a lady and my father wasn’t in my life so coaches took over where my dad went there and I look to do this for those kids.”
“They always confide in me and I love it because someone or trouble someone they tell me thing they won’t tell other coaches. One of the biggest things about coaching with me growing up I always counted out.”
Hodge is going into his second season as they offensive coordinator at Provine High School and also coaches on Demario Davis’ Devoted Dreamers 7-on-7 team.
And, as he reflects back on his career, though it didn’t go the way he planned, he says god has him where he needs to be.
“Now I see the big picture. At the time I was always goal oriented like I always sit right here on whatever goal the world and I can see the big picture of everything. Now I look at it like man God, there was a lot of grace you gave me because. I got hurt my senior year it was. The injury started having my senior year when I broke the records a lot of people don’t know I own got deteriorate. My knee was deteriorating hosing a year and I had no idea what was going on I just knew I was hurting but I knew my team needed me.”
And today, the kids he coaches need him just as much.