UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Brooks-Irvine Memorial Football Club of South Jersey has announced that Penn State senior linebacker Gerald Hodges (Paulsboro, N.J.) has been selected as New Jersey Division I College Player of the Year.
The former Paulsboro High School standout will be honored at the organization’s 68th annual awards banquet Monday (Dec. 10) in Cherry Hill, N.J.
An anchor of one of the top defenses in the country, Hodges ranked No. 5 in the Big Ten with 109 tackles. A two-time All-Big Ten pick, he led the team with seven pass breakups, was tied for second on the squad with two interceptions and ranked third with 8.5 tackles for loss, while adding one forced fumble and one sack. Hodges became just the sixth Nittany Lion to post multiple 100-tackle seasons.
A starter in all 25 games the past two years, Hodges was an instrumental part of a Nittany Lion defense that ranked among the Big Ten leaders and the Top 25 nationally in five categories. Hodges and his teammates were at their best in the red zone this season, leading the conference and ranking third nationally by limiting the opposition to just a 64 percent conversion rate inside the 20-yard-line. The defensive unit also led the Big Ten and tied for No. 14 in the NCAA in sacks (34), was No. 3 in the conference and tied for No. 21 nationally in turnover margin (+0.75) and was No. 4 in the conference and tied for No. 19 nationally in scoring defense (19.1 ppg). The Nittany Lions also ranked No. 23 nationally in rushing defense (130.1 ypg).
The “Linebacker U.” standout helped first-year head coach Bill O’Brien’s Nittany Lions post an 8-4 overall mark and finish second in the Big Ten’s Leaders Division with a 6-2 record. Penn State won eight of its final 10 games, with the only losses coming against division winners Ohio State and Nebraska. Six Nittany Lion opponents scored 17 points or less.
Hodges was a semifinalist for the 2012 Butkus Award, presented to the nation’s top linebacker and was on the Watch Lists for Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy. A preseason first-team All-America pick by Lindy’s, he also earned Mid-Season All-America honors from Phil Steele’s College Football. The senior also earned his third career Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week selection Oct. 8 for his superb effort in a victory over No. 24 Northwestern.
Hodges is the second consecutive Penn State player to be honored by the Brooks-Irvine Memorial Football Club with their top college honor, as guard Johnnie Troutman was the 2011 recipient. Previous Nittany Lions to earn the Brooks-Irvine Division I honor include quarterback Milt Plum (1956), end Dave Robinson (1962), George Landis (1970), running backs Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell (1971), linebacker Greg Buttle (1975), Ken Kelley (1982), linebacker Andre Collins (1989), quarterback Tony Sacca (1991), linebacker Aaron Collins (1997), offensive lineman Kareem McKenzie (2000) and Troutman (2011).