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Hodge To Make Wisconsin Football A Family Affair


Abdul Hodge was able to take care of his Mother's Day gift early this year.

The Green Bay Packers selected Hodge with the 67th overall pick, their first of two third- round picks in the 2006 NFL Draft.

Hodge, a linebacker from the University of Iowa, now will be closer to his brother, Elijah, who is a linebacker at the University of Wisconsin. His mother won't have to travel too far to see her sons in action.

"A couple weeks ago I went to one of his spring practices up there and told him it would be a great situation if Green Bay would select me," Hodge said. "You know my mom could come see both of us play, and I could drive down and see him and I would still be in the Midwest, which would be great."

Hodge is the second linebacker taken by the Packers in this year's draft following the first-round selection of A.J. Hawk.

Like Hawk, coaches believe Hodge is a versatile athlete that can play any three of the linebacker positions.

"Obviously, you pick up two pretty good guys, you've got to start feeling good about yourself," linebackers coach Winston Moss said. "It was a need we wanted to address coming in, and now we just have to get them in and work them into our system and see if they can produce."

Hodge is often referred to as college's version of Ray Lewis. He has comparable size and tenacity, and they both wore No. 52. He ranks third in Iowa history with 453 tackles, and is seventh in Division 1-A in tackles since 2000. Hodge had at least 10 tackles in a game 23 times in his career.

"He is a very, very competitive guy," Moss said. "The one thing that stuck out about Hodge is his ability to get the ball out and I think he can be an impact tackler. If you can get a guy like that and get him out on the field, I'm all about that."

Some might have thought Hodge would go earlier in the draft, but Hodge came in to the draft with the attitude that he would be thrilled no matter the outcome.

"Whatever team I went to or whatever round I was selected in, I knew the team was going to get more for their buck," Hodge said. "I'm just happy to be selected and I'm ready to play football again."

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