Eyeing an interception
Senior safety has even bigger plays in his sights this season.
By Mark Wright (MS) '07
Stephen Hodge's football resume looks awfully good. He had eight sacks last season to lead the nation for defensive backs. This summer, he appeared on a couple of preseason All-America lists, while Dave Campbell's Texas Football tabbed him the state's best defensive back.
Pretty impressive for a player with zero career interceptions.
"I had a chance for one in the first game last year against Baylor," Hodge said with a laugh. "It was right there and I didn't hold onto it."
While some teammates tease him about it, the senior from Tatum knows he contributes in other ways. Last season, he placed second on the Frogs in sacks, tackles for a loss (10.5) and pass break-ups (seven). He also forced two fumbles and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.
"He works really hard and he's an energetic player," senior linebacker Jason Phillips said. "He is definitely one of the biggest playmakers we've got."
At 6-feet, 230 pounds, Hodge is a specimen. He can hit like a linebacker and match the speed of wide receivers. That's why he appears on the watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe Trophies, awarded to the nation's top defensive player and defensive back respectively.
Throughout his TCU career, Hodge has shown a knack for making plays. A special teams standout as a true freshman and sophomore, he recorded five solo tackles on kickoffs in a 2006 road victory at Army and forced a fumble.
Last year, he came off the bench the first eight games of the season and still made second-team All-Mountain West Conference.
"For him to be successful, it's all about making plays and communicating on defense," safeties coach Chad Glasgow said.
Hodge is the quarterback of the secondary, Glasgow said. It's an apt description. Hodge was the signal-caller at Tatum High School, where he passed and rushed for a combined 99 touchdowns. At TCU, he anchors the Frogs' 4-2-5 defense that features three safeties and relies on the safeties to make reads and call audibles at the line of scrimmage.
"Since he was a high school quarterback, we knew that he'd make a good safety," Glasgow said. "For somebody to have played quarterback we know they are good communicators and we know they have tremendous athleticism because the ball was always in their hands."
If Hodge keeps making plays, he'll get his mitts on another ball and a chance at that first pick. Chances are, he won't lose this one.
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