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UB signee: California's Hodge looks like an answer on thin LB corps

Linebacker Khalil Hodge signed with the University at Buffalo in December after one junior college season and already is enrolled at UB.

He’s not part of Wednesday’s crop of mostly high school signees.

But he’s a critical addition to the Bulls, so we’re giving him a closer look on national signing day.

UB loses starting middle linebacker Nick Gilbo and backup middle backer Travis Pitzonka to graduation.

Hodge, a 6-foot-2, 240-pounder from Stockton, Calif., could step right in as the new starter in the middle of the UB defense.

He led the state of California in tackles as a high school senior for Stockton St. Mary’s with 262 in 14 games (18.7 a game). But his best offers (from Weber State and Sacramento State) were Football Championship Subdivision schools. So he opted to attend one of the top junior college programs in the nation, the City College of San Francisco.

He had a big year for CCSF, leading them to the California and national Juco titles.

CCSF coach Jimmy Collins on Hodge: “He’s very versatile. He can be a true middle linebacker, which I think is the intention at Buffalo. We played him in space quite a bit because he’s so athletic. I think what hurt him coming out of high school is he got stereotyped as a big body. He’s 6-2, 240 pounds or so. He’s gigantic. But he can play in space. There are times we had him at free safety because of what we were doing schematically. I think you’ll find that sideline to sideline he’ll make plays. What he does inside the box is what makes him an effective middle linebacker. He’s going to read pulls and guards and read his keys and be a stout run defender. What I think you’ll see is his athleticism in the pass game.”

“He had an interception for a touchdown this season for us. He causes turnovers. His best skills, you don’t find at combines. He’s a football player who makes plays. And he was a true freshman for us last year but was one of the leaders of our team. He was a captain. We rotated captains, and he was one of the few freshmen we sent out there a couple of times.”

“I thought he was one of the biggest recruiting misses I’ve ever seen out of high school. Some of the FCS schools out there recruited him hard, but he wanted bigger and better things.”

Besides Buffalo, Hodge had offers from Idaho and Florida A&M this winter. UB linebackers coach Chris Simpson recruited Hodge.

“I thought Coach Simpson did a fantastic job recruiting him. The number of times he was out here on the West Coast and back to the East Coast during the season for games was very impressive. If he came back next year, we’re sitting here with the entire Pac 12 in his lap. All those guys were looking for him for the next class of linebackers. He had four or five offers. If he stayed, he’s a Pac 12 guy.”

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