Wake County football stars take different paths after high school

Darius Hodge in a photo by CBS North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Darius Hodge is the first to admit he didn’t take his studies seriously his first two years of high school and it cost him.

“I’m disappointed I didn’t make it,” Hodge said.

Originally committed to N.C. State,  his slow start academically kept him from becoming a member of the Wolfpack.

“You know, I just thought football was everything, grades wasn’t nothing I needed, if I was good enough I’d be able to play. You know, coach sat me down plenty of times and told me academics is everything,” said Hodge, a recent Marshall football signee.

To his credit, Hodge got it right  and began tackling the books just as hard as he did opposing running backs, culminating with a senior year of a lifetime at Wake Forest High School.

The state championship game’s most valuable player ended the season with 139 tackles with 35 behind the line of scrimmage.

Add in 10 sacks and 8 interceptions and you can see why Marshall is excited to have him.

“Man, they’re going to love him. If you just watch the highlights on Darius, he’s all over the field. He’s a football coaches, football player,” said Wake Forest High School Head Football Coach Reggie Lucas.

Hodge looks good in green and white, yet time will tell what N.C. State missed out on  when Hodge failed to qualify.

For his part, the tackling machine has owned up to  his youthful mistake.

“I want to say sorry to coach Doeren. It was a commitment, but I fell short and I had  to find the best route for me,” Hodge said.

At Middle Creek High School, Daniel Jackson is one of nine Mustangs to sign a college letter of intent.

“I’m a firm believer that if it was meant to be that it would be,” Jackson said.

That motto has served Jackson well.  The Army recruit has been one of the state’s best  defenders the past two seasons.

Still, not one Triangle college extended an offer to the 6-foot-3, 200-pound safety.

“I don’t have any salt toward those teams but, I feel like, being looked at as an  under recruited, underdog guy it just gives me the extra chip on my shoulder to prove   that I can do what they said I couldn’t do,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s stats don’t lie:  21 interceptions combined in his junior and senior seasons and a team-leading 97 tackles.

Some think this those numbers would have been enough   to catch the eye of the local schools.

“I’d think they’d be knocking down the door to get a kid like that,” said Randy Ragland, Middle Creek High head football coach.

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