A starter in all 25 games the past two years.
On the heels of a breakthrough campaign, Gerald Hodges is focused on playing an instrumental role in helping keep the Penn State defense among the nation's premier units. The "Linebacker U." standout burst onto the collegiate football scene and earned 2011 first-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and ESPN.com. The athletic, hard-hitting, and highly competitive Hodges garnered 2012 preseason first-team All-America honors from Lindy's, second-team by Phil Steele's College Football Preview and third-team accolades from Athlon. He should be a strong candidate for the Butkus Award and additional national post-season honors. Hodges was instrumental in the Nittany Lions having the nation's No. 5 scoring defense in 2011 and became the 22nd Nittany Lion to post at least 100 tackles in a season. The swift, intense and instinctive Hodges makes sure he is in the right place at the right time, leading the team with 106 tackles (60 solo) and ranking in the top 15 in the Big Ten in hits (eighth) and sacks (14th tie with 4.5).
The hard-working, tough and physical Hodges also recorded 10.0 tackles for loss, forced two fumbles, broke up four passes and made one critical interception and lengthy return. The former Paulsboro High School All-South Jersey standout was selected Big Ten Defensive Player-of-the-Week in consecutive weeks in late October, becoming the first Nittany Lion to gain back-to-back conference accolades since Navorro Bowman in 2009. Hodges earned his second straight honor after recording a career-high 19 tackles, with an eight-yard sack and a fumble recovery, in the dramatic battle against Illinois. He logged 832 plays during his junior season, the highest total among defensive returnees and No. 2 overall to center Matt Stankiewitch. A January 2009 enrollee in the University, Hodges began his career at safety but was shifted to linebacker early in his true freshman season. Hodges is on schedule to graduate in May. The Touchdown Club of Southern Jersey's 2011 Division I College Player-of-the-Year, he is among seven Nittany Lion returnees from New Jersey.
Hodges was No. 4 in the Big Ten with 109 tackles. A semifinalist for the 2012 Butkus Award and a two-time All-Big Ten honoree, he led the team with seven pass breakups and was tied for second on the squad with two interceptions. He also ranked third with 8.5 tackles for loss, while adding one forced fumble and one sack.
Hodges was an instrumental part of a Nittany Lion defense that ranked second in the Big Ten and No. 16 nationally in scoring defense at 19.1 ppg. The Nittany Lions also led the Big Ten and were tied for No. 4 in NCAA Red Zone defense (.64) and ranked No. 23 nationally in rushing defense (128.4 ypg). Hodges was selected the New Jersey Division I College Player of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Southern New Jersey and the Brooks-Irvine Memorial Football Club of South Jersey.
It was a breakthrough campaign for Hodges, who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and ESPN.com and second-team accolades by the media. He also was named a Pro Football Weekly honorable-mention All-American and the Touchdown Club of Southern Jersey's Division I College Player-of-the-Year. Hodges led the team with 106 tackles (60 solo) and ranked in the top 15 in the Big Ten in hits (eighth) and sacks (14th tie with 4.5). He also recorded 10.0 tackles for loss, forced two fumbles, broke up four passes and made one critical interception and lengthy return. Hodges became the 22nd Nittany Lion to post at least 100 tackles in a season. Starting every game, he recorded a then-career-high 11 tackles against No. 2 Alabama. He also tallied 11 hits (seven solo) in the Big Ten opener at Indiana, including one for a loss. Hodges made five stops against Iowa, including a sack, helping hold the Hawkeyes to three points. He recorded eight stops in the Leaders Division matchup against Purdue, forced a fumble and had three tackles for loss. Hodges rewrote his tackle high with a superb 14-tackle effort (eight solo) in the road matchup at Northwestern, including 1.5 sacks, to gain his first career Big Ten weekly honor. He grabbed his first career interception and returned it 63 yards before being halted deep inside Wildcat territory to set up a third-quarter touchdown. Hodges was all over the field making plays against Illinois, delivering a career-high 19 tackles, while adding an eight-yard sack and a fumble recovery. Hodges made nine tackles against Nebraska, four hits in the division battle at Ohio State and seven at Wisconsin. He made nine stops and had one pass breakup against Houston in the TicketCity Bowl. Hodges logged 832 plays during his junior season, the seventh-highest total on the team, including highs of 81 snaps at Northwestern and 79 in the win over Illinois.
Hodges emerged as a bigger contributor for the defense during the second half of the season after suffering an injury on the opening kickoff at No. 1 Alabama. He made 31 tackles, with 2.5 tackles for loss and two pass breakups, during the season. He recorded five tackles in the season-opener with Youngstown State, including a pair of big third-down stops. He also tallied his first career tackle for loss. Hodges suffered a hairline fracture to his leg on the opening kickoff at Alabama and missed the next four games. He returned to the field at Minnesota, making a pair of tackles, and had three stops in the primetime win over Michigan. Hodges ended the regular-season on a high note, recording at least four tackles in each of the last three contests. He made back-to-back stops early in the fourth quarter at Ohio State to stifle a drive. Hodges earned his first career start against Indiana and delivered a career-high six tackles and broke up two Hoosier passes. He capped off the regular-season with five stops against Michigan State. Hodges tied his season-high with six stops (five solo) against Florida in the 2011 Outback Bowl, including 1.5 tackles for loss. He was on the field for 253 snaps, despite missing four games, topped by 49 against Florida and 45 against Indiana.
The hard-hitting Hodges saw action in every game on defense and special teams, making three tackles, with one stop each against Syracuse, Eastern Illinois and Northwestern. He began the season at safety, but was shifted to linebacker after the Temple game following a rash of injuries to the unit. He was on the field for 128 snaps, led by 21 against Eastern Illinois and 15 in the Land Grant Trophy win at Michigan State. He enrolled in January 2009 and was among eight true freshmen to see the field in 2009.
Hodges was a standout for Coach Glenn Howard at Paulsboro HS. He played safety and quarterback and returned kicks. A team captain, he was selected first-team All-South Jersey and first-team all-conference after his junior and senior seasons. Scout.com ranked him as the nation's No. 4 outside linebacker. He recorded 61 tackles and grabbed one interception his senior season. A three-year starter at quarterback, Hodges ran for 705 yards on 99 carries and threw for 695 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was instrumental in helping Paulsboro win two South Jersey Group I titles and four Colonial Conference Patriot Division championships. Captain of the wrestling and track and field teams, Hodges finished his junior wrestling season third in the state with a 40-1 record.
Full name is Gerald Davon Hodges. He is the son of Gerald Sr. and Sheila Hodges. He has two brothers, Tredell and Kevin, and a sister, Tamyra. Hodges enjoys working out, listening to music and dancing. He is studying rehabilitation services. Born January 17, 1991 in Woodbury, N.J.