Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction: Hoge Transferring

June 5, 2017

Sometimes it doesn’t work out like it’s supposed to. Tristen Hoge at Notre Dame is a perfect example of that.

He was a kid who was all in on the Irish from the moment he committed to the Irish. The top center prospect in the nation in the 2015 recruiting class is from Pocatello, Idaho, but his family moved to South Bend and painted his truck in a way that was the equivalent of getting a Shamrock tatted on his chest.

Although he didn’t play against top level competition in high school, his athleticism and demeanor suggested he could develop into Jeff Faine 2.0 at some point in his college career. That didn’t happen for him and now he is headed out for another opportunity after not being able to make an impact in his two and a half years in blue and gold.

This feels like a much different situation than Josh Barajas because at one point it seemed like Hoge was in a position to breakthrough and with Barajas there was no indication of that while at Notre Dame.

So what happened?

Brian Kelly mentioned Hoge as someone who could have played as a true freshman after enrolling early and after redshirting his first season, he was thought to be a legitimate contender for the starting center position after Nick Martin graduated. He was also given an opportunity to compete at right guard as well after losing Steve Elmer.

His mobility was a massive plus and was supposed to give him an edge in an effort to enhance the ability of the offense to trap and pull more, but he Hoge struggled at the point of attack. By the end of last spring he was out of the mix at guard and was slotted in as the number two center behind Sam Mustipher, but there was a drop off between the two. He would do a great job reaching a defensive tackle on one play, but then find himself in the backfield the next one going up against second or third string defenders.

He took some positive steps this spring and showed improvement to close the gap as the second team center, but never showed the same kind of fire he did back before he got to Notre Dame. He also never showed the kind of physical development that was expected, but part of that may have been due to the previous strength and conditioning staff.

It hurts the depth chart

Hoge may not be a starter, but this does hurt the depth at center. His greatest value was that he came in as a natural center who played the position in high school. The Irish don’t have another one of those on the roster behind Mustipher.

Redshirt freshman Parker Boudreaux just started taking reps at center this spring and he is a candidate to jump into that number two spot behind Mustipher. We haven’t seen enough from Boudreaux to know how he will handle it, but he’ll get his opportunity.

Another option is Hunter Bivin. The fifth year senior is supposed to be a swing player for the Irish this season that can step in at either tackle or guard, but he did work at center early in his career and played there going way back to the Under Armour All-American game in high school. If the line is in pinch due to a Mustipher injury, they may look to Bivin.

There is always the possibility of a true freshman playing there as well and Robert Hainsey was viewed by some as future center at the college level before he got to campus. He worked at tackle this spring, though, and looked very promising there. Maybe Harry Hiestand might choose to move him out of necessity, but that weakens the depth at tackle if that’s the case.

Whoever ends up as the second team center, it’s clear that losing Hoge isn’t ideal for this season even if he was going to potentially be beat out this year or next. It’s not a major loss for this fall, but the Irish will have to find a second suitable center in case of emergency for 2017.

The big chain reaction it does set off is in recruiting. The thought was that they were aiming to sign four offensive lineman in this class, but five seems like the number they need to shoot for now. Included in that has to be some players who could end up at center and right now I don't see many targets who fit that. They may need to expand the board.
Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.