As Wake Forest (NC) linebacker Darius Hodge catches fire as a recruit it's still safe to say NC State is a school that weighs on his mind. He has been to football games and basketball games at NC State from the fall through the winter with no sign of wavering interest.
There have been signs that Hodge (6-2, 246) is one day going to become much more popular with some of the nation's most recognized football programs. Notre Dame has been in talks with Hodge for months and the Wake Forest linebacker went all the way to South Bend (IN) for a game during the same season when he was in Carter-Finley Stadium for other games.
Hodge is expecting to attend a select few camps this summer and between that and the spring recruiting weeks just ahead it would be surprising if his offer list doesn’t grow. His 127 tackles (64 solos) in 2015 earned him the reputation of a linebacker who plays assignment football and finishes plays through the whistle. No one doubts his size and there is even talk that Hodge has the power to rush the passer in a way similar to some defensive ends.
As for which schools might be among the next to offer that's an unknown. But what's not known is NC State's desire to see Hodge stay near home.
"I've been talking to their coaches and we're on the same page. We talk even on a daily basis sometimes. Me and coach Kitchings and their linebackers coach all talk. Every time I go there we end up talking about defense. They like me at middle linebacker and we've talked about that but they said I could play a little D-End too."
Hodge was unable to participate in a State camp during the 2015 summer camp season. He was injured during those camps but whatever ailments were slowing him were a distant memory by the time his season started. Hodge did not miss any game action.
Because the coaches were not able to watch Hodge at camp they made it a point to go and watch Wake Forest games.
"They came to the Southeast game and I think the Enloe game. I think after the season they came to the school about three times just to check up on me and let me know they want me."
The coaches are not leaving anything to chance. That level of effort might be a sign that the coaches believe they need to put in extra work. That kind of commitment does not hurt but Hodge already likes a lot about State.
He played against Jalen Samuels and Nyheim Hines when they were at Mallard Creek and Garner. Hodge has also met players in the course of taking visits to the school and said he has friendships with Freddie Phillips and others.
Hodge likes that Kitchings talks to him about life more than football and said that approach has helped establish a degree of trust that will make him more willing to listen to him for the whole time that he is a recruit.
But Hodge also wants to take his time, continue to take visits and see the process out so long as new and different schools and coaches might be coming along.