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The Citadel's Brandon Rainey ran for 217 yards and a touchdown in a 42-27 win over Samford last season. Lauren Petracca/Staff

Devlin Hodges is the most decorated player in Samford football history, a three-time Southern Conference offensive player of the year who last season won the Walter Payton Award, the FCS version of the Heisman Trophy.

Yet Hodges was just 1-3 in four games against The Citadel during his career, including three starts, despite averaging 321 passing yards and almost two touchdowns per game against the Bulldogs.

With Hodges now on the roster of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, Samford will try its luck against The Citadel with a new quarterback on Saturday. Chris Oladokun, a transfer from South Florida, will lead Samford as No. 25 The Citadel (2-2) opens its Southern Conference slate at Seibert Stadium in Birmingham, Ala.

Oladokun, a 6-2,195-pound junior, represents much the same kind of dual threat as did Hodges — an accurate passer from the pocket who can make things happen when protection breaks down.

He is the leading rusher for Samford (2-2, 1-0) with 230 yards and four touchdowns through four games. And he's the top passer in the SoCon, averaging 258 yards per game with 11 TDs against four interceptions.

"They've found their quarterback, and he's a playmaker in all regards," said Citadel coach Brent Thompson. "You have to defend every part of the field, which is going to be difficult, so our defense has their work cut out for them."

Thompson compares Oladokun to Towson quarterback Tom Flacco, who sliced up The Citadel's defense with both his arm and legs in a win last season, and again in the 2019 season opener. Like Flacco, Oladokun plays behind a huge offensive line that averages 308 pounds and includes 6-7, 340-pound center Brendan Loftus and 6-7, 310-pound guard Mike Williams. 

"I'd say he's more comparable to Flacco, more of a mobile quarterback," Thompson said. "If the play is not there, he's going to tuck in and run it, very similar to the young man from Charleston Southern last week."

In limited action last week, CSU quarterback Jack Chambers ran for 94 yards on just eight carries against The Citadel in the Bulldogs' 22-13 victory.

Keeping the ball away from Oladokun and the Samford offense will be key, and The Citadel has been able to do that very well in its last three wins over Samford.

In those games, The Citadel averaged 414 rushing yards and 36:11 of possession time, along with 41 points per game.

And recent games against Samford have produced some of the best individual rushing performances in Citadel history. Quarterback Brandon Rainey ran for 217 yards on 26 carries in last year's comeback victory; fullback Tyler Renew plowed for 285 yards and three TDs on 45 attempts in a 37-34 overtime win in 2016; and quarterback Dominique Allen went for 166 yards and a score on 29 carries in a 44-25 win in 2015.

"They are probably one of the most physical teams we'll play all season long, especially on the offensive side of the ball," said Samford coach Chris Hatcher, whose team took a 21-14 win over Wofford in its SoCon opener. "The Citadel is playing at a very high level, and they've had a tough schedule.

"They are going to come in here and try to run the ball right over us, and try to hold onto the ball for a long time."

Rainey, injured in the fourth quarter of The Citadel's 27-24 upset of Georgia Tech two weeks ago, did not play against CSU last week. But he did practice this week and should be ready to start against Samford.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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