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Future Leatherneck: QB Hudson signs with Illinois school
The television at the Hudson household turns into a portal on weekends, a way for the son to visualize himself in the huddle, taking those three-step drops, checking the linebackers for a blitz and visualizing connecting on that third-and-long seam route.
Quarterbacking consumes Josh Hudson, who uses every moment — a 6:30 a.m. workout, an extra meeting with an offensive coordinator, an observation from a random NFL game on Sundays — to perfect the position's idiosyncrasies.
It's his habit of choice, one that started when he was playing peewee league and plopping himself in front of ESPN, looking at all those tall, athletic NCAA boys bombing that ball. Come next season, he's one of them.
"Mentally, I've always thought like a quarterback," he said. "My calling is the quarterback position."
So on went the work, from River Valley High to College of the Siskiyous, where he threw for 38 touchdowns over the last two seasons. It led him to signing a national letter of intent to play for Western Illinois University, a Division I-Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) school. He'll start, take on Missouri and inherit a legion of returning skill players who helped the Leathernecks reach the second round of the FCS playoffs before falling to Appalachian State.
And therein lies the simple allure of Hudson's choice: they win. Hudson's never made the postseason — not in Pop Warner, not in high school, and he just missed the chance starting for two years at Siskiyous.
"Coming out of high school and even in junior college, I was never able to make the playoffs or win a championship," he said. "Going to Western Illinois and having that opportunity right away to go win a conference ring or national championship — they have that talent there."
So after spending all those nights breaking down film on his laptop, studying breakdown sheets, averaging 2 and a half hours of meetings a day with coaches and mixing in weightlifting, plyometrics and running with normal practice, Hudson confidently projects he's ready for that opportunity.
"That's the stuff it takes to be a Division-I quarterback," he said. "And it's going to get more tiring as you get to higher levels ... that's why I was taught that if you want to be a Division-I quarterback, that's what you have to do. "
He also had to perform on the field. After a grayshirt year when Hudson ran the scout team and started to put in that extra work instead of getting by on sheer ability, the numbers came. His first season, he threw for 2,529 yards and 23 touchdowns. This last season with the Eagles, Hudson finished with 2,163 passing yards and 15 touchdowns.
"We thought he would be good and develop," said Hudson's former offensive coordinator, Charlie Roche, who now holds the same position at Division-III Redlands. "He took hold of the offense and went after it."
In came the interest.
"It's definitely fun; it's cool to take visits and talk to schools you wouldn't think you'd be talking to — the Cincinnatis and Pitts," Hudson said. "But it can be nerve-racking and it can be hit-or-miss. You can't invest all your feelings into one school."
Aside from the chance to win at Western Illinois, Hudson likes the challenge that awaits him. He'll be replacing quarterback Matt Barr, who is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton award, the Heisman of this level, which was formerly called Division I-AA.
"Any chance to come in there and prove yourself," he said.
When he arrives in a couple weeks to start taking spring classes, he'll bring his superstitions with him. Using the same socks, same Under Armour look and same visor all season plus a new mouth guard before each game are all necessary, he said. So is his pregame playlist, which is used when he heads out to the field, turns up Rihanna on his black iPod Nano and practices one last time with his receivers.
"There's some funny (songs) on there," he said.
But until he leaves, Hudson will be hanging around Yuba-Sutter. He'll head to Northside Fitness to lift, run up the levees and watch weekend football — not just to get one last glimpse at his favorite Denver Broncos, but to observe and learn.
"Watching things in a certain way to absorb things ... as a QB that's the most important part," Hudson said.