Hill, Hodges and Mauti named to national award watch lists

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State senior defensive standouts Gerald Hodges (Paulsboro, N.J.), Jordan Hill (Steelton) and Michael Mauti (Mandeville, La.) have been named to the watch lists for several national awards.

Hodges is among preseason candidates for the Nagurski Trophy, the Butkus Award and the Rotary Lombardi Award. Hill is on the Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi watch Lists and Mauti has been selected to the Butkus Award watch list.

The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the Charlotte Touchdown Club annually award the Bronko Nagurski Trophy to the nation's best defensive player. Penn State All-America defensive tackle Devon Still was a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy in 2011.

The third oldest award in major college football, the Outland Trophy is presented to the nation's top interior lineman. Penn State defensive tackle Mike Reid won the Outland Trophy in 1969 and Still was the most recent NIttany Lion finalist, in 2011.

First awarded in 1985, the Butkus Award honors the nation's premier collegiate linebacker. Past "LinebackerU." winners of the Butkus Award include LaVar Arrington (1999) and Paul Posluszny (2005). Posluszny also was a finalist in 2006 and Dan Connor was a 2007 Butkus Award finalist.

The Rotary Lombardi Award is given to the nation's top college lineman or linebacker each year. Penn State defensive tackle Bruce Clark was the 1978 recipient of the Lombardi Award.

A pre-season All-American, Hodges earned first team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and ESPN.com in 2011. He was instrumental in Penn State having the nation's No. 5 scoring defense in 2011 and became the 22nd Nittany Lion to post at least 100 tackles in a season. Hodges led the team with 106 tackles (60 solo), ranking in the top 15 in the Big Ten in hits (eighth) and sacks (tied-14th with 4.5). Hodges also recorded 10.0 tackles for loss, forced two fumbles, broke-up four passes and made one critical interception and 63-yard return to set-up a touchdown in the win at Northwestern.

The former Paulsboro High School All-South Jersey standout was selected Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week in consecutive weeks in late October last year, becoming the first Nittany Lion to earn back-to-back conference accolades since linebacker Navorro Bowman in 2009. Selected the Touchdown Club of Southern Jersey's 2011 Division I College Player of the Year, Hodges earned his second straight honor after recording a career-high 19 tackles, with a sack and a fumble recovery, in the dramatic win over Illinois.

Hill, a preseason All-Big Ten candidate, will anchor a talented and deep defensive line in 2012. Last year, he combined with All-American Still to provide Penn State with one of the nation's most formidable interior defensive line pairings. In 2011, Hill led the D-line with 59 tackles, including eight tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, earning honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition. The former Steelton-Highspire High School standout also topped the team and was tied for second in the Big Ten with three fumble recoveries, had one forced fumble and two pass break-ups. In a thrilling Leaders Division win over Illinois, he registered a career-high 10 tackles, with one stop for loss, helping limit the Illini to just seven points.

Mauti saw an impressive start to the 2011 season abruptly end versus Eastern Michigan in the fourth game when the pre-season first-team all-conference selection tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. In the three-plus games in which he played, Mauti recorded 21 tackles, with three tackles for loss, one interception and three pass break-ups. In the clash with No. 2 Alabama, Mauti led the team with a career-high 13 tackles and had two pass break-ups. He was superb in helping the Nittany Lions hold Temple to 10 points, recording six solo tackles, including a career-tying three for a loss. In the fourth quarter, he made a diving interception, the first of his career, to set-up Penn State's game-winning touchdown drive.

After working tirelessly during his rehabilitation and when winter strength and conditioning sessions began, Mauti was able to participate in selected individual in the spring and is expected to be 100 percent in time for training camp, which begins August 6.

The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy on November 15. The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet presented by ACN will be December 3 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C.

After revealing three finalists on November 19, the winner of the 67th Outland Trophy will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards on December 6 on ESPN.

Semifinalists for the Butkus Award will be named on October 22 with the unveiling of the finalists set for November 20. The 2012 Butkus Award winner will be notified on or before December 4.

After four rounds of voting by the selection committee, the 43rd Rotary Lombardi Award will be announced on national television live on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at The Hobby Center in Houston, Texas.

Coach Bill O'Brien's Penn State squad returns 34 letterwinners and nine starters for the upcoming season, as well as 16 players that have starting experience, having made a combined total of 77 starts among them.

Season tickets are available for the 2012 season, with the Nittany Lions hosting five teams that played in a bowl game last year, starting with Ohio on Sept. 1 (12 p.m.). Penn State also will host Ohio State (Oct. 27), Wisconsin (Nov. 24-Senior Day), Northwestern (Oct. 6-Homecoming), Indiana (Nov. 17), Navy (Sept. 15-Military Appreciation Day) and Temple (Sept. 22-All-University Day) in Beaver Stadium this fall.

For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can go to www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets or call 1-800-648-8269 (1-800-NITTANY) weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The pricing of 2012 Penn State football game tickets and accompanying donation levels is the same as in 2011.

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Last Updated July 31, 2012