Fans were surprised when country star Lainey Wilson walked the red carpet with Devlin “Duck” Hodges at the ACM Awards in May. Now the 31-year-old, who has been quietly dating the retired NFL player for two years, is ready to talk — and sing! — about her guy. “I am in love, I’m excited to share this side of my life,” the Baskin, Louisiana, native told Audacy. “That’s weird for me that I’m able to write those kind of songs.” (But don’t expect anything too mushy; the “Things a Man Oughta Know” singer says her love songs will be of the “I’m a strong woman and I gotta man who’s OK with it” variety.)

A source exclusively tells Life & Style the pair met through friends. “It was instant attraction, but Lainey wanted to keep it quiet to see if this was the real deal.” Duck, 27, who started his career as a walk-on for the Pittsburgh Steelers and played for the L.A. Rams and Ottawa Redblacks before retiring in 2022, impressed her with his own ambition and support for hers. “He knows what it’s like to start from the ground up,” she said. “He knows what it’s like to have a dream at a very young age… We understand each other.”

Devlin Hodges and Lainey Wilson

Now friends are expecting the pair to take the next step. “For Lainey, this guy is a keeper,” says the source. “He feels the same way about her.” And when it comes time to pop the question, Duck — nicknamed for his duck-calling prowess — will make it memorable. Says the insider, “He’ll want to propose in a fun way, like taking her on a hunting trip and surprising her!”