Gerald Hodges was the rock of the Penn State defense in both his junior and senior seasons.
During his junior campaign in 2011, the outside linebacker tallied 106 tackles (10 for loss) and 4.5 sacks.
His senior year featured 109 tackles (8.5 for loss), a sack and two interceptions.
Based on these impressive numbers, Hodges was selected as a second-team All-Big Ten linebacker in each season.
Hodges, who was a quarterback in high school, is an excellent tackler, strong in coverage and also a capable pass-rusher. He isn't an athletic freak, but he compensates with sensational instincts and fundamental, consistent tackling.
Hodges shows off his instinctual ball skills and soft hands in this highlight.
On this play, Navy runs a play-action sweep, and the quarterback rolls right, looking for his three receiving options.
Hodges' assignment is man-to-man with the running back, who slips into the flat as a safety option. Hodges gives the back a cushion, inviting the pass from the quarterback, who is under pressure.
Foolishly, the quarterback succumbs to the bait and lofts a soft pass to the running back, but Hodges leaps up and secures the interception.
In this highlight, Hodges lines up as a middle linebacker and blitzes up the middle.
Hodges rushes as soon as the ball is snapped but is immediately absorbed by the right guard. To free himself, Hodges swims to the left to create space.
He gets a bit of space, but the guard is still blocking Hodges to the inside. The Illinois quarterback steps up in the pocket, and Hodges, who keeps his momentum moving up the field toward the quarterback, is able to grab ahold of the quarterback's leg, despite still having the guard on him, and bring him down for the huge third-down sack.
Hodges lines up at his usual outside linebacker position on this highlight.
Illinois runs a read-option and the quarterback's read is Hodges, who stands pat, forcing the quarterback to hand off the ball.
The back takes the handoff and bangs into the line, finding no running room. On a second effort, he spins away from the line right into the waiting Hodges. Hodges stands the runner up, and when he realizes the back is going nowhere, swipes at the ball.
Knocking it free, Penn State is able to recover the fumble.
This was an outstanding game for Hodges, who tallied 19 tackles by time the final whistle blew.
On this play, Ohio State attempts to run the Wildcat to fool Penn State, but it backfires.
The snap is high and the running back bobbles it momentarily. Hodges illustrates his instinctual talents and sprints toward the running back the moment he notices the high snap.
This is a bit of a risky decision by Hodges, because if he misses the back, his assignment could be exposed. However, by not hesitating at all, Hodges is able to reach the back and throw him down for a significant loss.
This play certainly never found itself on SportsCenter's top plays, but it is a strong, fundamental play by Hodges.
Lining up to the right on the line of scrimmage, Hodges is responsible for outside contain on this play. Nebraska tests his responsibility by running a sweep left directly at Hodges.
Immediately, Hodges is engaged by the tight end. Hodges establishes an edge for the play by controlling the tight end's movements. By forcing him up the field, Hodges forces the running back to run inside, where Penn State's defenders are.
As if that was not enough, Hodges is then able to shed his block and drag down the Nebraska running back.