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Top 25 MAC Football Players of 2018: #7 Khalil Hodge, LB, Buffalo

Our imbedded reporter from last season not only is a great interview, he also happens to be one of the elite players in the MAC.

NCAA Football: Buffalo at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bulls had a surprisng 2017 campaign which saw them go from going 2-3 in the first five games and struggling to stay relevant to losing their top two quarterbacks and going 1-3 to looking unstoppable over the last four weeks of the season on the way to one of the most dramatic 6-6 seasons in recorded history.

One reason the Bulls were able to stay steady on the course towards bowl eligibility was a stellar defense led by Stockton, California’s very own Khalil Hodge.

Prior to the season, Hodge sat down with our very own Ryan Sura coming off a 123-tackle effort in 2016 to talk about his expectations, both for himself and for the Bulls as a whole. Hodge noted that a heap of responsibility had been crowned upon him pretty much from the outset upon his arrival from City College of San Francisco.

“Coach Leipold got me out there early,” Hodge said back in August 2017. “I came into spring football and was already learning to be a play caller on the defense. The learning curve was tough, but I wanted to be that player for Buffalo.”

He’s been that and more for a Bulls squad which looks to establish themselves as one of the best teams in the league in 2018. Last season, Hodge completed the year with an eye-boggling 154 total tackles (66 solo) to average 12.1 tackles per game. Hodge also added on three sacks for 24 yards lost, 6.5 tackles-for-loss for 28 yards lost and two interceptions.

The six-foot-one, 235 lb. rising junior is the run-stopper’s runstopper, disrupting backfields and stopping ballcarriers at a pace which hasn’t been seen in Buffalo since Khalil Mack patrolled the second level of the defense for the Bulls.

Hodge was named to the 2017 All-MAC Football First Team squad in the postseason and is currently on the watchlist for several awards in 2018, including the Bednarik and Butkus Awards.

Despite all the recognition, Hodge is a man with a mission. As he noted halfway through last season with us, there’s a lot more he feels he can do before his time is up in Buffalo.

“It is nice to get some recognition. But, I’m not even close to finished. My goals have not been met just yet. I need to do more,” Hodge said in Oct. 2017. “I got my motivations mentally, I just need to keep pushing to achieve them.”

Like we warned you last season, Khalil Hodge is a name you won’t want to forget this upcoming season.