One could argue that it isn't that Penn State middle linebacker Glenn Carson has been overlooked this fall, he's simply been mistaken for a mirror.
Gerald Hodges is one of two Nittany Lions with more than 50 tackles this season.
On either side of him is an identical force of destruction.
Senior outside linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges are living up to their lofty preseason expectations and the strong tradition the school has at the position. Through seven games, both players rank among the top 11 in the Big Ten in tackles per game. They've combined for 119 tackles, six tackles for loss, four interceptions, 10 passes defended, three forced fumbles and three Big Ten Player of the Week honors.
That's just on game days. At practices, the pair set the physical and emotional tone for the rest of the defense and strive to get the best out of one another.
"We motivate each other," Hodges said. "Every time he makes a play, I'm the first one there to make sure he knows he did a good job. It's nothing but friendly competition to make each other better and help the team win."
It's not uncommon for the two linebackers to peruse the stat sheets and see who came up with more tackles, Mauti said.
"We’re constantly comparing," Mauti said. "But we just want to make plays. That’s what it comes down to."
Penn State linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden, who has sent a half dozen of his players to the NFL in the past six years alone, downplays the competition aspect between the two but sees the positive effect they have on each other.
"I see two guys that really enjoy the game and enjoy each other," Vanderlinden said. "Both Gerald and Mike feed off each other's enthusiasm. They're trying to be the very best player and support each other in every conceivable way. When one makes a play, the other one is there to root for him."
Hodges is a talker once his helmet goes on but calms down a bit when he's out of uniform, he says. Not so with Mauti.
"On the field, we're basically the same exact person, " Hodges said. "Off the field, Mauti can't sit still. He has ADHD. He's always moving around. I'm more of a laid-back type person."
Hodges played on the weak side for the past two seasons but was moved to the strong side during the spring. The Nittany Lions, Vanderlinden explained Thursday, needed someone who could step in and play that spot with Mauti still recovering from his ACL injury. When Mauti returned during the summer, the coaching staff decided to leave Mauti, who had played strong side in 2010, on the boundary and keep Hodges in the field.
"But in a lot of ways they're mirrored positions, depending on the defense we're in," Vanderlinden said.
Vanderlinden, who is asked seemingly every year to compare his current group of linebackers to those he coached in previous years, said the Hodges-Carson-Mauti unit holds its own against them all.
"Athletically, they rank right up there at the top of the list," he said. "We've had some really good combinations."