Rutgers' loss is Penn State's gain as Paulsboro free safety Gerald Hodges changed his oral commitment from staying in New Jersey to heading for Happy Valley.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Hodges plans to enroll at Penn State next month.

"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. He 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.