NFL critique a father's secret for linebacker

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State outside linebacker Gerald Hodges still doesn't know the results of the evaluation he sought in the winter from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. His father, Gerald Sr., hasn't told him.

Hodges, Penn State's leading tackler a season ago, was with the team in Dallas for the TicketCity Bowl when his father, at home in Paulsboro, N.J., took a call from the board, which assesses the potential draft stock of underclassmen who consider leaving college early for the NFL.

"I'm not going to show you the results. I'm just going to let you make a decision off of how you think you'll be going to the next level," Hodges said his father told him. "He said, 'You know whether or not you can play at the next level.'... I think he's going to tell me after a while, but right now he doesn't even like to put the pressure on me."

While in Dallas Hodges announced his intention to return for his senior season.

Looking ahead
  • What: Blue-White Game, the traditional end to spring practice, Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa.
  • When: 2 p.m. Saturday.

Hodges returns as one of Penn State's top defensive players. Big Ten Conference coaches voted him first-team All-Big Ten in 2011 after he led the Nittany Lions defense with 106 tackles. He also recorded 4.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 1 interception.

Hodges is a key player at a position that figures to once again be a strength for Penn State. The linebacking trio of Hodges, Michael Mauti -- who is expected to be 100 percent healthy after recuperating from a torn knee ligament -- and Glenn Carson should give Penn State one of the conference's top linebacker corps. Khairi Fortt and Canon-McMillan's Mike Hull also figure to see playing time at linebacker.

"He's had one of the better springs," first-year coach Bill O'Brien said of Hodges. "He's a heck of a player. A very intense guy, athletic guy. He's what you picture in a Penn State linebacker. He's poised to have a very good year for us."

This spring, new defensive coordinator Ted Roof moved Hodges from the weak-side to the strong-side linebacker position, which will put Hodges, a former safety, in more coverage situations and allow him to use his athleticism more.

Hodges has not outlined specific personal goals for the 2012 season, aiming simply to "just go out and get better every day." If he does that, Hodges said, his long-term goals will be reached.

"Any day you come out here and you don't get better, it's a waste of a day," he said. "I don't want to say, 'I want to come out here and be a first-team All-American.' Those are long-term goals. It's something that's always going to be in the back of my head for sure. But each day, just come out here and get better."

One goal remains -- the NFL. If Hodges performs as many expect he will during his senior season, his evaluation from the advisory board might as well be ancient history.

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