The cycle is the same during every off-season. Leaders leave, new leaders are needed and those leaders step up or continue their emergence. After the Nittany Lions' big win at No. 14 Wisconsin in the 2013 season-finale, it came as no surprise that linebacker Mike Hull took a more active role as a team leader heading into his senior season. The highly-productive, instinctive and physical player on defense and special teams should merit All-Big Ten and CoSIDA Academic All-America consideration this season. He was named first-team preseason All-Big Ten by Athlon Sports and Lindy's and second-team all-conference by Phil Steele's College Football Preview. Having been born and raised in western Pennsylvania and coming from a Penn State family, Hull has long been familiar with the litany of outstanding "Linebacker U." products from the Pittsburgh area during the Big Ten era -- including the likes of LaVar Arrington, Sean Lee, Paul Posluszny and Brandon Short. Hull was more than willing, ready and able to carry forward the "Linebacker U." legacy with the departure of Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges after the 2012 season. Hull was second on the team with 78 tackles (44 solo) last year despite missing two full games and most of two others due to injury. The tough and fierce competitor ranked fifth in the conference with 9.1 tackles per game in Big Ten play, making at least nine tackles in six Big Ten games. Hull has come up big on some of the biggest stages, recording 10 tackles, including two tackles for loss on Michigan's final drive of regulation, and an athletic pass breakup, in the four-overtime win over the No. 18 Wolverines. He is a passionate workhorse in the weight room and regularly ranks among the strongest non-linemen in team strength and conditioning testing. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Hull earned his degree in finance in May. The former Canon-McMillan High School standout owned a 3.30 cumulative grade-point average through the spring semester and should be a strong candidate for CoSIDA Academic All-America accolades. Hull's father (Tom) and an uncle (John Hull) played for the Nittany Lions in the early 1970s. His father helped the Nittany Lions compile a perfect 12-0 record as a senior in 1973, defeating LSU in the Orange Bowl. Hull is among 10 returning Nittany Lions from metropolitan Pittsburgh.
2013 (Senior Season)
Hull embraced his role in the "Linebacker U." tradition, as he ranked fifth in the conference with 9.1 tackles per game in Big Ten play and finished 11th in the conference for all games at 7.8 tackles per game. Hull played in 10 games and made eight starts, missing the Eastern Michigan and Kent State games and seeing limited time against Syracuse and UCF due to a knee injury. Hull was a stalwart for the defense, making at least nine tackles in six of the eight Big Ten games. He was second on the team with 78 tackles, also ranking second with 44 solo stops. He made 4.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, forced one fumble, recovered a fumble and had two pass breakups. Hull made his second career start in the season-opening win against Syracuse and made one tackle before suffering a knee injury in the first half. Hull returned to the field against UCF, posting four tackles (three solo) in limited action and registered his first double-digit tackles game of the season with 10 stops at Indiana, including 0.5 sacks. Hull followed with another 10-tackle effort in the dramatic four-overtime win over No. 18 Michigan. In that game, he recorded two tackles for loss on the Wolverines' final drive of regulation, forcing a punt, and had a huge pass breakup in the end zone in the second overtime to help hold Michigan to a field goal. Hull tied for second on the team in tackles at No. 4 Ohio State with nine stops. Hull's productivity continued to escalate, delivering a career-high 13 tackles to lead the team and all Big Ten players on Nov. 2 in the victory over Illinois. He also broke up a pass on fourth-and-one from the Penn State four-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Hull had nine stops (seven solo), including one TFL at Minnesota, followed by a six-tackle performance in the win over Purdue. He also forced and recovered a fumble against the Boilermakers. Hull recorded nine tackles (four solo) in the home-finale with Nebraska, including a tackle on first-and-goal during a fourth-quarter goal line stand. Hull finished the season strong, recording a team-high seven tackles (five solo) in the season-ending win at No. 14 Wisconsin. He led a defense that held the Badgers to 120 rushing yards, nearly 180 yards below their season average of 297.8 yards entering the contest. Hull claimed his third Academic All-Big Ten honor.
2012 (Junior Season)
Hull played in every game for the second straight season, making his first career start against Wisconsin. After senior co-captain Michael Mauti was injured in the first quarter of the Indiana game, Hull took the field and responded by recording a career-high 11 tackles, with one sack, 1.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup in the win over the Hoosiers. In addition to helping Penn State rank second in the Big Ten and No. 16 nationally in scoring defense at 19.1 ppg, Hull saw action on all four punt and kickoff units. He was No. 6 on the team with 58 tackles (34 solo), the highest total among the non-starters. He was tied for third on the squad with 4.0 sacks for minus-25 yards, recorded 5.0 TFL, two fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown, an interception, a blocked punt and four pass breakups. Hull made six tackles (four solo) against Ohio and had two solo stops, including a sack, at Virginia. He had five hits and alertly scooped up a fumble, returning it 74 yards for a touchdown, in the 34-7 win over Navy for Bill O'Brien's first career head coaching victory. Hull made three stops each in wins over Temple and at Illinois and had five hits with a pass breakup in the 39-28 decision over No. 24 Northwestern. He made two solo stops and grabbed an interception in the 38-14 win at Iowa. Hull blocked his second career punt in the second quarter against Ohio State, which was recovered by Michael Yancich for a 7-0 lead in an electric Beaver Stadium. He also recorded a sack among his three solo tackles against the Buckeyes. Hull made six hits and had a pass breakup in the 34-9 victory at Purdue, helping hold the Boilermakers to their fewest points since 2008. Hull made seven tackles at No. 18 Nebraska and recovered a fumble in Northwestern territory that led to a touchdown. He made his first career start in the thrilling 24-21 overtime win over Wisconsin and had five tackles (four solo), with 0.5 TFL. Hull earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for the second time.
2011 (Sophomore Season)
In his first season on the field, Hull played in every game on special teams and defense and was an immediate contributor. He totaled 18 tackles, including 1.5 TFL, and had two pass breakups and one blocked kick. In his first career game, Hull made a team-high seven stops, with 0.5 tackles for loss, against Indiana State. He recorded two tackles and a pass breakup against No. 2 Alabama. In the win at Temple, Hull blocked a punt in the second quarter, giving Penn State the ball at midfield to set up a touchdown drive. Hull made five tackles and had one pass breakup in the Eastern Michigan victory. In the Leaders Division win over Illinois, Hull was part of a punt return unit that put pressure on Illini punter Justin DuVernois throughout the game, blocking a kick in the fourth quarter to set up a scoring drive. Hull recorded two tackles at Wisconsin, including one for a loss, and made two stops against Houston in the TicketCity Bowl. Hull saw action on 222 plays, including highs of 45 snaps against Indiana State and 38 against Eastern Michigan. He earned Academic All-Big Ten honors.
2010 (Freshman Season)
Hull was a standout at Canon-McMillan High School, where he was coached by former Nittany Lion Guy Montecalvo. Rivals.com rated Hull the nation's No. 7 outside linebacker prospect. He was one of five members of the Nittany Lions' 2010 recruiting class selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that year. As a senior, he recorded 97 tackles in just seven games and rushed for 443 yards and seven touchdowns. He led the WPIAL in rushing as a junior with more than 1,300 yards. Hull also was a three-year letterman in baseball and a team captain, a two-year letterman in wrestling and a team captain, and was a member of the track and field team for one year.
Full name is Michael Thomas Hull. He is the son of Tom and Donna Hull. He has an older brother, Joey Trivilino, and younger sister, Ashley. His father and uncle, John Hull (1970-71), are Penn State football lettermen. His father, a linebacker, lettered from 1971-73, helping the Nittany Lions to a superlative 33-3 record, including a 12-0 mark in 1973. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers and played for the 49ers and Green Bay Packers. Another uncle, Louis Kreznoski, played football at North Carolina State. During his free time, Mike enjoys playing tennis and golf and hanging out with friends. He is a finance major in the Smeal College of Business. Born May 25, 1991 in Ellwood City, Pa.