In this week's installment of Scout's Player To Watch, we profile outside linebacker Gerald Hodges. Scout rated Hodges a four-star recruit coming out of Paulsboro, NJ, and assessed him thusly:
Another speedy defender that will play "down" a level to linebacker after playing a lot of safety in high school. His speed as a safety translates into a blazer at the linebacker position on the college level as he continues to grow into his frame. He excels in pass coverage already and will just need to gain the size, strength and experience he'll need to be a full time linebacker.
Hodges indeed started as a safety at Penn State, but it didn't last long. Ron Vanderlinden likes his linebackers bloodthirsty and athletic, and Hodges is plenty of both. After being publicly tweaked by Joe Paterno for being hesitant earlier this season, Hodges transformed into a missile during the Iowa game and hasn't looked back since.
Last week against Northwestern, Hodges earned Co-Defensive Player Of The Week honors. He had a career-high 14 tackles (eight solo), 1.5 sacks, and returned his first career interception 63 yards (before hilariously running out of gas) to set up Penn State's final score of the game. Hodges leads Penn State with 58 tackles and is second on the team with 8.0 tackles for loss. He also has 3.5 sacks on the season.