Hodge has no regrets about being team player

August 12, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

MOREHEAD - Brian Hodge takes pride in being a team player.

That's why he never hesitated when Morehead State University defensive coordinator John Gilliam asked him to move from defensive end, the spot where he started as a redshirt freshman and had 25 tackles until he suffered a concussion late in the season, to defensive tackle.

"I knew it might mean less playing time, but I also knew it was something the team needed me to do," said Hodge, a senior and former Garrard County player. "I had to gain weight when I made the move, but it was not that big a deal. I moved from linebacker to defensive tackle my senior year at Garrard County. That was a big move.

"I consider myself a team player. I was probably the one defensive end most willing to move down, but that was fine with me. I have no regrets about what I did."


That's partly because Morehead has played in the Division I-AA non-scholarship national championship game the last two years. Each time the Eagles lost, but Hodge hopes that changes this season.

"I'm hoping to get to play a lot this year, but I am not as worried about playing time as I am about winning a championship," Hodge said. "We return a lot of starters on defense. We need a new starting quarterback. But we should make a run for the championship."

Two of his teammates - running back Casey McCoy and defensive tackle Justin Nichols - won three state high school championships at Boyle County. While Hodge knows they also would like a national title, he doubts that it could mean as much to them as it would him.

"I don't know how to put into words what it would mean. I just don't know. It would complete what I want to do," he said.

He also has one other team goal to accomplish.

"If we win seven games, we will be the all-time winningest senior class at Morehead," Hodge, a business information major, said. "Last year's seniors surpassed the previous record. If we could beat them, it would really be something to be proud of."

He's proud of what he's done

Hodge is already proud of what he's done. He backed up a two-time All-American tackle his sophomore year, but still was in on 35 tackles himself. One former teammate is now playing in the National Football League. Another plays professionally in Germany.

"There are a lot of good athletes at this level," Hodge, who spent the summer in Morehead attending summer school, said. "My sophomore year I probably l learned as much from the guy I was backing up as I did my position coach. He was that good."

Hodge has increased his weight from about 220 pounds when he left Garrard to 265 going into this season. Yet he remains Morehead's smallest defensive tackle and has three teammates weighing between 290 and 300 pounds.

"I rely more on my quickness. Last year it seemed like I would play more against passing teams because I had a better pass rush and against running teams I would go in mainly on passing downs," Hodge said. "But we play a lot of people on defense. Last year we had 26 people letter.

"We rotated seven defensive tackles. We were always fresh and by the fourth quarter we are going against offensive linemen that are really tired."

While some players might want to play even more, Hodge is delighted just to be a productive college player. He had 15 tackles, including one quarterback sack, last year.

"I just wanted to play football. I could have maybe gone to Western or Eastern and maybe got to play, but I wanted to make sure I didn't just sit and watch for four years," Hodge said. "I am living my dream. I always wanted to be a college player. No matter what happens this year, I can always say I was a college football player and I'm proud of that."

Editor's Note: For more stories on college football players from this area, check out the special section in this Sunday's Advocate.

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