New Hampshire DB Jake Kiley Commits to Penn State
July 26, 2011 – | No Comment

States like New Hampshire are often overlooked by college recruiters scouring the northeast. With a population of a little over 1.3 million (barely 14.5% of the population of New York City), the talent pool in …

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Counting Down the Lions: #32

Submitted by on August 14, 2009No Comment

In joining Charlie’s Top PSU moments, we’ve added another daily countdown feature here at quebecpenspinning. We’ll be measuring up the 50 most important players to Penn State’s success in the 2009 season. You may have noticed that we’ve slacked off a little lately, but expect a few daily doses of Counting Down the Lions until we’re all caught up.

Checking in at #34 is someone who could make a big impact at safety for the Nittany Lions: Gerald Hodges.

Number: 6
Position: “Hero” Safety
Class: True Freshman
Height: 6′2
Weight: 220
Hometown: Paulsboro, N.J.
How’d He Get Here: Hodges was the star of his high school football team, starting at quarterback, running back, and safety, and leading his team to the conference championship game in his final year.  Named to the first team All-Conference and all South Jersey team in each of his final two seasons, Hodges became one of New Jersey’s elite recruiting prospects. Ranked a four-star player by both Scout and Rivals, Hodges drew significant interest from the major universities up and down the East Coast.  Boston College, Syracuse, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Maryland, West Virginia, and Tennessee were among Hodges suitors, and early in the recruiting season, in June of 2008, he verbally committed to his hometown Scarlet Knights over Penn State.  However, when fall came around, Hodges opened up his recruitment.  Taking his official visit during homecoming weekend, Hodges witnessed a beatdown of Michigan, and became awestruck with the Beaver Stadium atmosphere, and a month later announced that he would play for the Nittany Lions.
2008 Results:  Hodges enrolled early at Penn State, and played in the Blue/White Game, recording 2.5 tackles and one nasty beheading of Andrew Sczcerba.  He also received punts in the game.

Freshman safety Gerald Hodges (6) leaps toward tight end Andrew Szczerba (80) in an attempt to break up a pass.
Freshman safety Gerald Hodges (6) leaps toward tight end Andrew Szczerba (80) in an attempt to break up a pass. Photo credit: The Daily Collegian

What to Expect in 2009: As we’ve explained in other installments of this series, the safety position at Penn State is different than it is at most schools.  Typically, Penn State will employ a free safety, who in 2009 will be Drew Astorino, and also a “hero,” who roves near the line of scrimmage to help contain the running game.  Think of where Mark Rubin was positioned to strip Terrelle Pryor, and that’s where Penn State likes to position its second safety.  Well, Hodges has great size–he’s so large that many observers, including analysts from both Scout and Rivals, consider him more of a linebacker than defensive back–which would certainly come in handy if he’s in the box most of the time.  Unfortunately for Hodges, one of his fellow competitors for the position, Andrew Dailey, is actually a converted linebacker, so he can’t win it on size alone.  Nonetheless, Hodges should see plenty of playing time, especially in the pre-conference schedule, as Penn State looks to figure out the pieces to put in it’s defensive backfield.
Random Facts: Hodges isn’t just a phenomenal football player, he was also an all-state wrestler in high school.
The Final Word: Gerald Hodges probably won’t start from day one.  In fact, that’s nearly a certainty.  Andrew Dailey has more experience, and so does Nick Sukay, who’s been chomping at the bit to finally get on the field after suffering career ending injuries in the preseason each of the past two seasons.  However, it would certainly behoove Penn State to get this exciting freshman on the field as much and as early as possible.  We know  that the Blue/White Game really doesn’t mean much–how much success is Matt McGloin going to have this year–but watching Hodges out there was exciting.  He’s a very big kid, who’s just flying around out there, and if he is going to hit his own teammate as hard as he did, you can only imagine what he’ll do to the opposition.  Though Hodges has only been on campus for a few months, he’s just as proven, on the gridiron, as Dailey and Sukay, so what does Penn State have to lose by giving Hodges plentiful playing time?  My guess is that by midseason, he’s rotating in during nickel sets, when Nick Sukay, who will be starting at the hero, shifts to nickel back.

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