Q&A With Michael Hodges

Michael Hodges has a unique and inspiring story. The starting MIKE linebacker began his college career in the Air Force Academy, thought about giving up the game, and now finds himself playing in front of thousands of fans on Saturdays at Kyle Field. Websider's Taylor Hamm sat down with Hodges for a one-on-one interview. View the transcribed interview in the tailgate!

Talk about your decision to walk on here at A&M versus opportunities to play elsewhere on scholarship…

"That's kind of the scenario. I didn't have that many opportunities out of high school so I went to the Air Force Academy first. I was up there for two full years and decided to leave after my second full year there. I came down here, I didn't get accepted at first and I was still chasing the dream of playing Division I football…I had a lot of friends down here and really liked the traditions and everything that came with Aggieland... so that is why I decided to come down here and walk on."

Did you ever imagine when you decided to walk on that you'd be starting in the middle of the Texas A&M defense in front of 80,000 fans in Kyle Field?

"Not one day. I knew and I felt that I could contribute to the team but there wasn't a feeling of being a starter…I always thought I'd be a contributor, primarily on special teams but I got a good chance in the Spring when Coach Kines gave me a good opportunity to help the team out as a starter."

What are some things you can improve on?…

"Definitely my coverages. Getting moved to a MIKE position has been tough, I played WILL in the Spring. The coverages at MIKE are different so that's something I'm in the process of learning. Also, just being more of a leader, I'm still too focused on myself. I need to open up and help out the team a little bit more."

Have some experienced players helped you out and how big of a role have you played in the development of the freshman?

"It's interesting that you ask. This summer, at the end of Spring when I tore my ACL, my role changed from starter to another coach. I was coach's eyes pretty much on the field during the summer and I primarily helped the freshman linebackers to learn their positions so we came into camp knowing what to do. And Kyle [Mangan], when I transitioned to MIKE, he has helped me pick up the things on the run rather than having to start from scratch.

Was there ever a point when you first got here that you questioned your decision to go the football route?

"Yes, I've been through so much ups and downs since I left high school. It felt like I was chasing a dream that wasn't reachable. With the support of family and friends, I couldn't hang up the cleats yet so I kept pursuing it and it all worked out."

What is your major and what do you plan on doing when you graduate?

"I'm a Sport Management major with a Business minor. I really like business and I really like sports so if I can combine the two that would be obviously the ideal situation. I'm not picky, if its the corporate world or sports, I'm fine with either one."

Have you had a chance to look at the KSU film? What kind of problems will they provide for you on Saturday?

"Primarily for our team it's going to be fits. They are a big, hard-nosed football team, they have a big ‘ol running back who it going to try to come downhill and take you head on which is going to fit us well. I think it's going to be a good change for us, not so much going to the air... We're going to actually have an opportunity to see who can really bang some heads this week."

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