Florida LB has NC State Among his Favorites

Fort Lauderdale (FL) Dillard High had one of Florida's strongest defenses last year, featuring two high-major signees in Vernon "Pig" Smith (Pittsburgh) and Pat Sims (Auburn).

However, some observers believe the best defensive player on the team was junior linebacker Elijah Hodge.

Hodge finished the year with over 100 tackles and 9 sacks from his outside linebacker position.

"I did pretty good for our team," he told StateFans. "We had a lot of good players, but I did alright. Now I just need to continue to improve because I have to be a leader this year."

Hodge impressed this spring at both the NIKE Camp and MSL combines, where he proved to be one of the more versatile linebackers in attendance. At 6'1 and 195 pounds, he possesses very good speed (4.6 40) and athleticism (32 inch vertical). His performances at the combines and on the field has led to increased interest from prominent programs across the country.

"Miami, NC State, Iowa, Duke, Pittsburgh, and LSU are showing the most interest," he said. "Duke's offered and another came in but the name escapes me right now."

"I'm probably leaning to Miami because everyone looks forward to staying home, but my options are still open."

Elijah also was quick to point out his high interest in NC State.

"I like their style of football," Hodge said. "The speed on their defense and the atmosphere at their games is what I really like about them. In fact, Coach 'Doc' Holliday from NC State was out at our practice today watching us."

What could become a factor in Elijah's recruitment is that his brother, Abdul Hodge, is a star linebacker for the Iowa Hawkeyes, who are also high on his list.

"I'm still open to everybody, but it also lets me see what's good about Iowa because he's there," Elijah said.

Because spring practices are currently underway, Hodge's focus has been on improving a Dillard squad that's operating under a new coaching staff after the departure of Head Coach Ken Scott last season.

"I think we're better as a team," Elijah said. "Our attitude's better, and the one big difference is we are more disciplined. I think the defense will be strong so we should be real good."

Hodge is also an outstanding student who is already fully qualified with a 3.7 GPA and a 1080 SAT score. As far as a college decision, it's going to be a while.

"I'm going to take my time and not rush. There's no hurry or anything."

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