Two PSU linebackers make semifinalist list

The reputation of Linebacker U seems as strong as ever after two linebackers made a prestigious semifinalist list Monday.

Penn State linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti advanced to the Butkus Award's list of 12 semifinalists -- making the Nittany Lions the lone team with two representatives.

The list, which features two other Big Ten linebackers, was embraced with little controversy. Illinois' Jonathan Brown and Michigan State's Max Bullough earned nods on the list, as the Big Ten led the nation with four nominations.

Mauti, a redshirt senior, has become the unquestioned leader on this defense. Through seven games, he boasts a team-leading 65 tackles, 2.5 sacks and five deflections. He's also had a hand in six turnovers. Hodges has played under Mauti's shadow but has still recorded 54 tackles, 2.5 stops in the backfield and four pass breakups. Hodges has helped force three takeaways.

Monday's honors came two weeks after Mauti's snub on the Lombardi list. Bill O'Brien said last week he couldn't understand how either linebacker could be left out of any defensive conversations -- so news of their recognition likely didn't come as a surprise.

"I do think there's a certain amount of ridiculousness that guys like Michael Mauti or Gerald Hodges or Jordan Hill aren't on the -- I don't even know the awards," O'Brien said last week. "But if there's a linebacker or lineman award, I can't imagine there's many linebackers or defensive linemen in the country better than those guys."

The last Penn State player to win the award was Paul Posluszny in 2005.

The Butkus Award finalists will be announced Nov. 20, and the winner will be named Dec. 4.