What better place to look than the family bloodlines of Abdul Hodge, one of your defensive leaders. Iowa has had their sights set on Elijah Hodge since last spring, and now they are waiting to bring him up for his first trip ever to Iowa City on December 10th. That weekend is shaping up as one of the most important recruiting weekends in recent memory (click here for the visit list).
"Honestly, I haven't been able to catch all the phone calls from Iowa because I guess I'm just not home that often," said Hodge. "Coach (Phil) Parker is the one calling me, and he sounds like a good man. He told me that they can see me coming in and being a leader on their defense, much like my brother is right now."
Despite having a brother on campus, Hodge has never been to Iowa and he comes from an urban area that is literally and figuratively thousands of miles away from the state of Iowa.
"I'm guessing I will see some cornfields when I get up there, but I know I've heard a lot of good things about Iowa City. I'm just looking for a place where I will be able to have some fun when football is not going on where there is things to do in the community. I know what Iowa will be able to offer football-wise, but I hope they'll be able to offer even more outside of football," Hodge said.
Hodge has also set visits to North Carolina State (12/3) and Ohio State (1/7) to this point. He stated that Pittsburgh and Rutgers remain in contention for the last two visits, and he continues to give Miami(FL) strong interest as they are calling him on a weekly basis. Neither the Hurricanes nor Buckeyes have offered in writing, thus far.
Iowa Hawkeye fans saw Teraz McCray jump on a late Hurricane offer only two recruiting classes ago, and most would admit to being a bit gun shy after that experience, combined with Elijah's professed interest in the hometown ‘Canes.
"I'm not going to just jump on an offer if Miami presents me with one. There are a lot of things under consideration in my recruitment, and I do want to take my visits. I know these schools have been coming after me hard since the beginning and I want to give everyone a fair chance. There is nothing holding me down to Dade County," Hodge said.
Elijah did get the chance to watch the Hawkeyes perform this past weekend against Penn State.
"It was a real good defensive game," said the 6-foot-1 205-pound linebacker. "I just wish the offense could have done more to help, but I've always liked what I saw from Iowa's defense. I can see myself playing in that type of defense."
Elijah, who wears the #52 at Dillard, knows if he were to come to Iowa he'd have to give up the number for at least one year.
"I know that is my brother's number right now, but as soon as he left, if I was there I would jump on that number," Hodge joked.
While family connections can play a big role in the recruiting process, Hodge still believes Iowa would be a school under consideration even if his brother were not there.
"If they were still having the same type of success, then certainly they'd be a school that catches my eye. One thing I do know I've learned about Iowa from my brother being there just from going to the Orange and Outback bowls, Iowa has some of the best fans in the nation. You can't beat their fan support," said Hodge.
Scout.com's Chris Pool spoke with Hodge's high school coach, Keith Franklin...
"Growing up in South Florida it's hard not be a fan of Miami." Dillard head coach Keith Franklin said.
"The "Canes" are a big thing down here but Elijah (Hodge) has been keeping an open mind. Miami hasn't offered Elijah yet and he has his sights set on a few different schools.
"Iowa has offered a scholarship and with Elijah's brother (Abdul) up there in Iowa City, that's a plus for them.
"Elijah also likes North Carolina State, they have offered and they also have a lot Florida kids on their roster so that's a plus for them.
"Elijah likes Florida State but they haven't offered either. I wouldn't be surprised if Florida State and Miami brought Elijah in for an official visit and I'm sure that he'll visit Iowa and North Carolina State."
We asked Coach Franklin what Hodge brings to the table as a linebacker.
"Elijah is only 6-foot-1 and about 205-pounds but he does have good speed and quickness." Franklin said.
"Elijah has been on the varsity since his freshman year. He's a natural leader and a student of the game.
"Elijah is very good at breaking down films and studying the opponent and once he gets on the field, he brings it.
"Once Elijah gets on the football field and he zooms in on his target, he let's the opposition know that he'll be there all night and it's going to be rough going."
Elijah Hodge does have an official visit set up with Iowa for December 10th.