June 23, 2008

Hodges family pleased with choice

Many high-profile prospects with impressive offer lists embark upon a process of elimination wherein they systematically narrow their lists based on certain criteria. Safety Gerald Hodges of Paulsboro, N.J., however, took a different course of action.

According to Hodges' father, Gerald Hodges Sr., there were no bad options for his son. It just happened that Rutgers was the best of all the potentially good choices.

"Of the 18 or 19 schools that offered scholarships nobody really said anything different," Hodges' father said. "We couldn't say, 'This was wrong with this school,' or, 'That was wrong with that school.' It's just that he could only go to one school.

"We took this entire process as a family and I just had a connection (with Rutgers) as a father. My son had a connection with the school everywhere he went."

Had you asked Hodges where he would like to end up a couple of years ago he may have given you a different answer. That's because Hodges grew up a fan of a different program. Unlike some prospects, however, Hodges had the opportunity to commit to the program he was once so fond of. That may be the biggest testament to Schiano's recruiting efforts.

"When (Gerald) really got to thinking, 'I love this game of football,' that's when he became a Miami fan. That was his dream school. When he got word they were offering him a scholarship he ran to my work. He was out of breath.

"But he chose Rutgers. No one said anything or did anything wrong. We're gracious that they even considered us. The worst part about this whole thing is we have to tell everyone else no."

Though he was a fan of Miami, eventually Hodges' decision came down to Rutgers and Penn State. In the end he knew he wanted to be a Scarlet Knight.

"(Gerald) actually sent me a text on Friday and asked me if he could commit to Rutgers on Saturday," his father continued. "We all discussed it and we were alright with it. We made a decision to go up there on Sunday.

"We went and talked to Coach Schiano and the coaching staff. They were happy," he laughed. "They were happy and rightfully so. He was one of their top recruits. We were happy too."

Hodges may become another key recruiter for the Rutgers football program. In fact, that was one reason he felt like this was the right time to commit.

"He did say something to me at one point, because I asked him what was his reason for committing," the elder Hodges said. "He said he wanted to commit hoping that some of the other guys who haven't committed would see him and want to come (to Rutgers) too.

"It's really surprising, but he's had an opportunity to speak with a lot of the potential recruits. They keep in touch all the time, all kinds of different guys. He and Aaron Hayward are really good buddies and he committed last week."

Hodges is rated the No. 19 safety in the country. Prior to committing to Rutgers he had received offers from Syracuse, Tennessee, Miami, West Virginia, Boston College, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Penn State and Pittsburgh, among others.

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