Penn State's Top LB to Return

Junior 'backer Gerald Hodges will not make himself available for the 2012 NFL Draft. Hodges leads the Nittany Lions in tackles. Included is a video interview with him.

DALLAS -- Another All-Big Ten underclassman has announced his intention to return to Penn State in 2012, regardless of what unfolds with the school's ongoing coaching search.

Linebacker Gerald Hodges, who leads the Nittany Lions with 97 tackles heading into Monday's TicketCity Bowl against Houston, informed reporters of his decision at the team hotel Saturday.

“I'm definitely coming back,” Hodges said in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Dallas. “I'm coming back to graduate, that's the first priority.”

A junior, Hodges has submitted paperwork to the NFL draft advisory board. He said he will use the information he receives from the board to determine where he must improve heading into his senior season.

“If they give me something to try to improve on, that's going to be the first thing I try to improve on,” Hodges said. “What they say matters.”

Two weeks ago, All-Big Ten running back Silas Redd announced his intention to return to Penn State. Just a sophomore, Redd was not eligible to enter the NFL Draft, but admitted he briefly considered transferring before deciding to remain in Happy Valley.

Redd re-addressed the situation Saturday.

“I had some thoughts about (transferring),” Penn State's leading rusher said. “But I sat down with a couple of people and they gave me the right advice. I decided whatever the situation may be, I'll stay with Penn State.”

The Penn State program was thrust into a state of chaos when the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal broke in early November. That included the abrupt firing of longtime head coach Joe Paterno.

The university has yet to tab a permanent replacement for Paterno, as former defensive coordinator Tom Bradley is serving as interim head coach for the bowl. Hodges admitted the players are anxious to learn who the new coach will be.

“It's definitely a big deal,” Hodges said. “But if we have our same coaches or a new coach, the expectations are still the same. That's to go out there and play Penn State football.”

Junior defensive tackle Jordan Hill has also submitted paperwork to the advisory board. Earlier this week, he said he is leaning toward returning to Penn State but is waiting to hear what the board says before making a final decision.

Hodges and Redd are both second-team All-Big Ten picks. Hill is an honorable-mention selection.

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