The Vikings looked to add another vertical threat at tight end this offseason to pair with Kyle Rudolph.
If rookie Bucky Hodges is that man, well, it’d look fitting in the No. 84 jersey he chose that was immortalized by Randy Moss.
“Legendary. That’s what I thought,” Hodges said. “When I put this on, 84 is legendary. I want to build on it, man. These are some big shoes to fill, but I feel the 7 at Virginia Tech, I held that down a little bit. Now it’s time for me to hold 84 down.”
Hodges, the Virginia Tech quarterback-turned-tight end, also did not shy away from taking the number (7) once worn by Michael Vick when he arrived on the Hokies’ campus. But a scout team role at tight end eventually led to a permanent position switch at Virginia Tech.
Now the 6-foot-6-inch Hodges has dreams of being the next great No. 84 to catch touchdowns in purple.
“I put enough pressure on myself,” Hodges said of wearing Moss’ former number.
The Vikings have retired six numbers in franchise history, including Cris Carter’s No. 80, but the 84 is still in circulation. When Cordarrelle Patterson received that number as a rookie in 2013, Moss said it was “disrespectful.”
Hodges means no disrespect, recalling the days when he was a kid mimicking Moss with leaping grabs in the front yard.
“Favorite player,” Hodges said. “Randy Moss, Michael Vick, Allen Iverson are my favorite players.”
But Hodges, a former high school basketball player who lined up more as a receiver than traditional tight end at Virginia Tech, said there’s no single comparison for his game.
“I’m my own type of player,” Hodges said. “I take bits and pieces from a couple tight ends. My favorite is [Washington's] Jordan Reed, [Kansas City's] Travis Kelce, big-time [Seattle tight end] Jimmy Graham. Like I said, I got bits and pieces of all their games. I’ll bring a little Moss to it. I’ll bring my own style to it.”
Like all rookies, Hodges has only started his long road to Sundays. The sixth-round pick (201st overall) is a stellar athlete who posted top marks across the board at the NFL scouting combine, but the former quarterback is only three years into his move to tight end.
Hodges (6-6, 257 pounds) lined up all over the formations for Virginia Tech, but he was mainly used to create mismatches as a threat with the football. Blocking out of a three-point stance, for instance, will be one of the biggest learning curves.
“Anything coach [Mike] Zimmer and his staff need me to do, I’m open and feel I can execute it very well,” Hodges said, adding: “I’m very raw [at blocking]. My stance, getting in and out of my stance. The little nuances people don’t understand going on in this game, but my hunger, my drive — the sky is the limit.”
Hodges hopes to add his chapter to No. 84′s history in Minnesota.
“This is the Bucky Hodges story,” he said. “I’m writing my own story.”