Paulsboro free safety Gerald Hodges, who originally made an oral football commitment to Rutgers, has changed his mind and will attend Penn State.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Hodges plans to enroll in January.

"It was a really hard decision," Hodges said last night by phone. "I had a really good relationship with Rutgers, but I just felt Penn State was the best fit."

Hodges was a four-year varsity performer for Paulsboro, winning two South Jersey Group 1 titles and four Colonial Conference Patriot Division crowns.

Penn State has enjoyed success with another member of the Colonial Conference, safety Anthony Scirrotto, who played at West Deptford, Paulsboro's big rival.

Hodges also was Paulsboro's quarterback the last three seasons, but his future is on defense. This season, he had 61 tackles and one interception. An elusive runner, he rushed for 705 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Hodges was supposed to switch to receiver and running back this season, but an injury to starter Kevin Johnson left him under center most of the season. He threw 10 touchdown passes.

Hodges was supposed to visit Penn State this weekend, but said he canceled the trip because he was feeling ill. He plans to make the trip soon.

Hodges attended Penn State's Oct. 18 game against Michigan, won by the Nittany Lions, 46-17. He left that game with a favorable impression.

"It was a great atmosphere there," he said.

He's looking forward to getting started as soon as possible.

"I think it will really help me to get there early," he said. "I hope to be able to contribute right away."

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.