Lifelong Jaguars fan Cooper Hodges happy to be drafted by ‘dream team’
The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted a local prospect early in the day Saturday when they took Florida linebacker Ventrell Miller in the fourth round, but the real hometown draftee is probably seventh-round guard Cooper Hodges of Appalachian State.
Before he was a star lineman for the Mountaineers, Hodges played at Baker County High School in Glen St. Mary, Fla., about 35 miles west of TIAA Bank Field.
“It hasn’t even really set in yet,” Hodges said in a conference call with reporters. “I’ve been watching the Jags for a long time. Just a lifelong fan. They’re the reason I got into professional football, just knowing there was a team 30 minutes away, going to games.
“To play 30 minutes away. For these home games, you’re gonna have family and friends there all the time, it’s just honestly a blessing and a great opportunity for me and I couldn’t be more excited for it.”
Hodges told reporters that he knew he was on the Jaguars’ radar, even though he was dealing with a stomach bug when he visited the team for its local pro day.
“I struggled just because I was real sick,” Hodges said. “But I was like ‘Man, I gotta find a way to get there and just, you know, be there.’ It’s my hometown team, it’s my dream team. I just had to fight through a little adversity and make it there.”
While seventh-round picks typically face an uphill climb to make the roster, there isn’t a ton of competition between Hodges and a roster spot as there’s little depth on the interior of the Jaguars’ offensive line.
During his time at Appalachian State, Hodges was a four-time All-Sun Belt selection and was credited with allowing seven sacks in 1,668 pass-blocking snaps at right tackle.
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