Share This Page

Hull ready to step in for Penn State at outside linebacker position

| Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 11:26 p.m.
Tribune-Review
Penn State linebacker Mike Hull sacks Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller for a 6-yard loss during the second quarter of a game on Oct. 27, 2012, at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa.

Bill O'Brien talked football with Mike Hull on Monday night, and the next day, he paid the Canon-McMillan graduate an interesting compliment.

“He's a football dude,” Penn State's first-year coach said.

If the definition of a football dude is a hard-nosed player with the smarts and skill set to move seamlessly among three linebacker positions and excel on special teams, then Hull indeed qualifies.

His value to the defense increases this week as he takes over at weakside outside linebacker for fifth-year senior Michael Mauti, who won't play in the regular-season finale against Wisconsin on Saturday after suffering a serious knee injury that likely includes tears of both his left ACL and MCL.

The loss of Mauti is a devastating one to Penn State since his value to the team transcends the tackles he piled up on a weekly basis. If anyone can soften the blow of losing Mauti, it is Hull.

The redshirt sophomore has seen his role expand as the season has progressed. Because of his ability to defend the pass, Hull had been sharing the inside linebacker spot with Glenn Carson before Mauti got hurt.

The coaches are confident the versatile Hull — who has played all three linebacker positions this season — can hold down Mauti's spot.

“He's really valuable, and he's a warrior,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said.

Hull showed that last Saturday, particularly after Mauti left the game.

He recorded a career-high 11 tackles and a sack in helping to slow down Indiana's fast-break offense enough for Penn State to cruise to a 45-22 win. The only question regarding Hull is where he will play next season.

Mauti and strongside outside linebacker Gerald Hodges will be lost to graduation, and Hull will be plugged into one of those positions. Roof said the 6-foot, 228-pound Hull has the potential to make as much of an impact as Mauti and Hodges, who leads Penn State with 102 tackles.

“I always thought I was capable of doing good things; it was just a matter of getting an opportunity,” Hull said. “I think I've really grown a lot this year just because of the opportunities and the snaps I've gotten.”

Hull has had an additional coach this week as Mauti has been a regular at practice.

“He's in the meetings and he'll be around,” O'Brien said of Mauti. “I think that's good in a lot of ways mentally for him. He can help Hull. Here's a guy who's a very instinctive player. Little tips can help Mike Hull in this game.”

It may well be one football dude passing one of Penn State' hallowed positions to another football dude and, in many ways, it is fitting.

Mauti helped convince Hull to stay at Penn State when the latter was wavering after the NCAA sanctioned the football program in July. And Hull will follow Mauti and Hodges in trying to maintain the excellence that connects linebackers from Jack Ham and Shane Conlan to LaVar Arrington and Paul Posluszny.

“He's going to go in there and play as hard as he can,” O'Brien said of Hull, “and it's going to be pretty fun to watch him play.”

Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.