Wide Receiver Isaiah Hodgins
Q: If you remember on November 2, can you just speak about your mental state when you were claimed off the waivers to now, your confidence was unbroken to still be playing for the Giants?
A: On that day, it was definitely a roller coaster. I was just at home kind of relaxing thinking, 'Dang. I just got cut. Hopefully I get brought back onto the active in a couple of weeks. And I got to work my way back up.' And then I started getting all the Facetime calls and text from (Head Coach Brian) Daboll of like I was coming over here. And a couple hours later, I was on the flight, getting the playbook and learning any of the new stuff. It never really rattled my confidence, though. If anything, I think it helped just because the way that Daboll brought me in, I just knew that he was going to give me the opportunity. He wasn't going to hand me a job, but he was going to give me an opportunity and let me see what I could do with it. I think week by week and practice by practice, he continued to do that. I went out there and worked hard every day and tried to show my best of like, 'Hey, I want to be here, and I want to stay here.' And I think it's gone good so far. So, I'm just thankful for those guys for just bringing me in.
Q: You've only been teammates with (running back) Saquon (Barkley) for a couple of months now. What impressed you the most when you got in here and got to know him?
A: I would say just his hard work and just how he practices. A lot of times with superstar players, at least from – I've played with a couple before – but from what I've heard from guys is that 'Oh, this superstar doesn't practice. And they don't work hard. And they don't this.' But I had a real great example in Buffalo with (wide receiver Stefon) Diggs. Diggs was one of the most intense guys at practice every single practice. And I think Saquon follows that same way. We'll do a little inside zone, and he's finishing 60 yards down the field in the end zone. It sets a good example for young guys like me or younger guys on the practice squad or rookies and stuff like, 'Man this is how you're supposed to practice.' It doesn't just happen in the game. He gets these reps and looks in practice, so when it's in a game, it's natural for him. And it's easy.
Q: Did you view him as a superstar before you came in? Was that always your impression of him?
A: Yeah, I'm pretty sure everyone would view Saquon as a superstar, for sure. I remember him back in his Penn State days when he was going crazy out there, playing USC (the University of Southern California) in the Rose Bowl and scoring all those touchdowns. It's definitely cool now to be playing on the same team as him, thinking at one point in time, I was just in college watching him.
Q: The narrative of the Giants playing with house money, do you pay attention to it? Does it add fuel to the fire?
A: I try not to pay too much attention to that. I know that that narrative is going to be out there all the time, and not many people maybe expected us to be there. But I think the people within the locker room expected us to be here. And I think the team knew that at the beginning of the season. I wasn't here with them for then, but when I first came in here and I knew and I saw the pieces that were on this team, I just knew this is a talented roster. This is a talented team. And I feel like each week, they've done a good job of catching me up to speed. And they've done a good job of buying into Daboll and how he wants us to practice, how he wants us to play. And like, 'Hey, if we take this thing one week at a time, we could keep proving everybody wrong.' But it's a 'not looking too far ahead' mentality. One week at a time. Practice, hard work and just continue just to fight every game.
Q: You had a 100-yard game in the playoffs for the Giants. Have you talked to any of the former receivers here – guys like (Amani) Toomer hang around the building or what not. Have you talked to anybody? Have you heard from anybody? Has anybody reached out to you? Anybody tell you, 'I like your game?' Has anybody from Giants' past reached out to you now?
A: I haven't talked to any receivers, no. I actually got to – and not talking yet – but I think I'm going to do a little bit of talking with (former running back) Tiki Barber, which is kind of cool. He knows a couple of people that I know and reached out to me. So, it was kind of a surreal moment to have that happen. Not any wideouts, but if any of them are watching this, hit me up. I'm willing to learn anything. So, I'm here.
Q: Is it a 'pinch yourself' kind of moment? You were on the practice squad, and now you're like a legit number one receiver having 100-yard games, five touchdowns in six games for a playoff game?
A: I would definitely say it's a surreal moment. I never look past it. I knew that I could do this, but just to be there sitting back looking at a couple months ago, I was getting cut from one team. And now, I'm playing in the second round of the playoffs. Sometimes I get that overwhelming feeling of just like, 'Man, I'm so blessed to be here and I'm so thankful.' I just try to remind myself of that every day.
Q: How much have you guys just gained confidence in the last few weeks with the passing game really picking up? Is that something that kind of makes you guys realize, 'Hey, that first game when they came in, we really struggled against their defense. That's way in the past now because we've just made so many strides since then,'?
A: Yeah, I think it's good to look at that game because we did struggle that game, and as you said also, we have made strides since then. It's good to look at the good and the bad, to go back a day and look at that game and see what we could have done better and say, 'Hey if we would have done this or we ran routes how we do now and just the concepts, it might have turned out different.' But it was a good learning lesson, and I think sometimes you got to get smacked in the mouth like that to kind of have that bitter taste so, when you guys play next time that hopefully there's a different result. I think we're playing great football right now. I think the coaching staff has done a great job of just putting us in the right position. The players have done a great job of putting in that extra overtime work just knowing, 'Hey, this is week-by-week. Next week isn't promised. So, put in all the work this week, and we'll go execute on Saturday and see what happens.'