Highlights of Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges' teleconference with Minnesota Vikings beat writers. The Vikings took Hodges in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
On his reaction to being drafted:
Man, there is no [better] feeling in the world, I'm talking a weight-off-my-shoulders type feeling. I was sitting here just watching it and I just happened to get in the shower [to] take some stress off me. As I'm getting out of the shower, I hear my phone ringing, and I wasn't in a rush to get to my phone because I didn't know what it was. So I get over here and I see Minnesota and I looked at the board and saw Minnesota was up in two picks and I just started crying. I just couldn't believe it. It's a blessing.
On if he expected to go earlier:
Yes sir. I expected to go earlier and thought I was going to go earlier. But God has a plan for every single person.
I let him take it in his hands and guide me. It's a blessing. It's a surreal moment right now.
On if the Vikings said how they intended to use him:
Yes sir. I just got off the phone and they really like me and told me I have a chance to really come in here and make an impact. I said whatever you guys need me to do, whatever you guys want me to do, I'm ready to do it. I'm ready to be a Viking and I'm ready to get started.
On if the Vikings will use him on the outside:
I told them I can play outside or inside. I can play the linebacker position well. I believe that I'm going to do nothing but just get better playing the linebacker position. I have a great coach in Coach [Mike] Singletary and I'm ready to just go. I know what he's capable of doing and I'm just ready to go.
On if he has ever played middle linebacker:
Never. Sometimes moved into box. Never played true middle backer until East-West Game.
On how comfortable he is dropping into coverage:
I feel really comfortable and that's why I felt like I was going to go a little earlier than when I went, because I was great in coverage. But like I said, God has a plan and coaches see certain things they want in certain players. So I feel comfortable in coverage and playing in the box at the same time.
On what it was like being recruited by and playing for Joe Paterno:
It was a blessing. It was like being coached by a god. Well, not a god, because nothing is higher than God, but like being coached by a legend while he was still coaching. It was a blessing just to be in his hands. He was more of a father figure than I would say coach. He was like a father figure. He talked a lot of football but he also talked a lot about respect, and it was a blessing to play for him.
On if he tried to convince other players to stay with the program when it was hit with NCA sanctions last summer:
Yes sir. We didn't really have to go around and talk to guys. [They had a] big meeting as players. Guys were going to go their way and we couldn't do too much if a guy said he was leaving -- it's not like we could chase him down and make him stay. He's going to make his own decision. It was our job to let those guys know what it means to play Penn State football and what it means to be part of a family. That was our main goal, letting them know the true meaning of playing football.
On why he switched from safety to linebacker:
My freshman year, NaVorro Bowman and Sean Lee had some injuries. About the third or fourth game of the season I wanted to play a little bit more than I was playing, so I went down there and told them I wanted to play linebacker.
On if he has maxed out in terms of the strength and muscle he can add:
No sir. Been flying around through the visits and everything. I believe once I get on my regime, like when I'm usually ready to put on weight, I'll be fine. I can put on or lose weight -- whatever the coaches need me to do.'
On how much he matured after everything that happened at Penn State the last year and a half:
I believe throughout this past year it was truly a maturing process. New coaches coming in asking you to learn new defenses, having to go against NFL offenses, just being able to talk to younger guys and tell them how you feel about the program. Very maturing. Everybody trying to knock us down.
On if he watched the Draft Thursday night:
I just sat there and watched it with my mother and father. Congratulated every guy that I knew because at the end of the day, we're all trying to get the same goal and we're trying to be the best.
I wasn't mad or anything. I was a little frustrated the more and more rounds went, but I know God has a plan for me. I know God had me where he wanted me.
On how much interest the Vikings had shown in him prior to the Draft:
I talked to the Vikings at the Combine and then at my Pro Day. I wasn't thinking they were thinking about me. For some reason, a lot of other teams that were very interested in me a lot that I visited, those are the teams that you think are going to draft you.
On what teams showed the most interest:
Teams like Tampa Bay, Dallas, New Orleans -- teams like that. Every time their pick came up, no phone call.
On what it was like returning kicks at PSU:
[Laughs] That was fun. That right there shows
the respect that [the coaches] had for me and the type of athlete that I was, to even put me back there as a linebacker my senior year. It just shows you the type of athlete I was.