UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; October 22, 2012 - Penn State senior standouts Gerald Hodges (Paulsboro. N.J.) and Michael Mauti (Mandeville, La.) have been selected semifinalists for the 2012 Butkus Award, presented to the nation's top linebacker.
Penn State is the nation's only school with multiple players selected among the 12 Butkus Award semifinalists.
Coach Bill O'Brien's Nittany Lions (5-2, 3-0) have won five straight games. Penn State returns to Beaver Stadium Saturday to face No. 9 Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) for a 5:30 p.m. kick and an all-stadium Penn State WhiteOut. The Nittany Lions and Buckeyes are the only unbeaten teams in the Big Ten Leaders Division.
Presented annually since 1985, "Linebacker U." All-Americans LaVar Arrington (1999) and Paul Posluszny (2005) are former winners of the Butkus Award. Nittany Lions Shane Conlan (1986), Andre Collins (1989), Brandon Short (1999), Posluszny (2006) and Dan Connor (2007) were finalists for the Butkus Award.
Hodges was selected a 2012 first-team pre-season All-American by Lindy's and recently was named a Mid-Season All-American by Phil Steele's College Football. He also is on the Watch Lists for Bednarik Award and the Nagurski Trophy. Hodges is 11th in the Big Ten with 54 tackles and has 2.5 TFL, one interception, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a team-high four pass break-ups. The former Paulsboro High School standout has started all 20 games the past two seasons.
Hodges made a season-high 11 tackles versus Ohio in the season opener. He earned his third career Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honor after recording a season-high tying 11 tackles, with 1.5 TFL, a forced fumble and two pass break-ups in the Nittany Lions' 39-28 comeback win over then No. 24 Northwestern.
Mauti recently was selected a 2012 second-team Mid-season All-American by SI.com and Phil Steele's College Football and also is a Bednarik Award candidate. He also was named ESPN.com, BTN.com and Athlon Sports' Mid-season Big Ten Defensive MVP.
A two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honoree this season (three career), Mauti leads the team with 65 tackles (36 solo). He also has 3.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks (minus-25), a team-high three interceptions, two forced fumbles one fumble recovery and two pass break-ups. The former Mandeville High School standout is No. 5 in Big Ten in tackles, is tied for No. 2 with two forced fumbles and tied for No. 2 with three interceptions. He leads the Big Ten with 125 interception return yards., including a Penn State record 99-yard return in the 35-7 win at Illinois.
Mauti and Hodges are two of the leaders for a Penn State defense that ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten and No. 13 in the nation in scoring defense (15.7 ppg), No. 2 in the conference and No. 21 nationally in rushing defense (113.0 ypg) and No. 1 in the Big Ten and 14th nationally in turnover margin (+1.14 pg), having forced 15 turnovers. The Nittany Lions also lead the conference and are No. 6 in nation in Red Zone defense at 60.0 pct. (opponents are 12 of 20).
The Butkus Award honors outstanding linebackers at three levels of play - high school, college and professional. Finalists will be announced November 20 and winners will be announced by December 4. The professional winner will be announced in early 2013.
"This Award is about honoring linebackers at all levels, and reminding them that they have a responsibility to serve as role models and to give back to society," said Dick Butkus, the legendary Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker.
--PSU Athletic Communications--