Last week Notre Dame lost reserve linebacker Josh Barajas to Illinois State. On Monday the Irish lost another reserve – backup center Tristen Hoge after BYU announced that the junior was transferring and joining the Cougars. Hoge, an Army All-American, will leave Notre Dame without ever starting a game for the Irish just like Barajas.
Tristen Hoge came to Notre Dame three years ago as the #1 ranked prep center in the country. He was unable, however, to crack the starting line up in his first two seasons and was going to be relegated to a reserve role again this season. Hoge battled Colin McGovern last fall for a starting spot at right guard but lost out to the senior who has also since transferred. McGoven decided to use a graduate transfer to finish his eligibility at Virginia.
With McGovern out of the way the path to a starting role looked wide open for Hoge until Brian Kelly announced that Alex Bars would be moving from right tackle to right guard. Bars, a starter in 2016 at tackle, was slated in as the starter at guard and Hoge was pushed back to center where he would have spent the 2017 season backing up Sam Mustipher.
With both Bars and Mustipher having two years of eligibility remaining, the path to a starting role looked anything but certain for Hoge. That likely played a large role in his decision to transfer to BYU.
Impact of Tristen Hoge’s Transfer
Notre Dame will likely turn to Parker Boudreaux as Mustipher’s backup in 2017 unless they decide to cross train another lineman to take Hoge’s spot. Boudreaux did not play as a true freshman in 2016.
Even though Hoge was not scheduled to start in 2017 and would have had a battle on his hands in 2018 – unless Bars land Mustipher both leave for the NFL with 5th years available – losing Hoge hurts the depth along the offensive line for the Irish this fall. Notre Dame’s second string offensive line as of now looks like Aaron Banks (Fr), Hunter Bivin (Sr), Parker Boudreaux (So), Trevor Ruhland (Jr), and Liam Eichenberg (So). Only Bivin has seen any substantial action.
Looking ahead to 2018, if either Bars or Mustipher has a breakout season this year and decides to head to the NFL, Notre Dame will have a bit of a problem on their hands that Hoge could have helped them solve. The Irish will already be replacing two starters in Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson (don’t hold your breath Nelson will come back for a 5th after three years as a starter). Losing either Mustipher or Bars would mean replacing up to four offensive linemen.
Notre Dame Under Scholarship Limit, Briefly
The transfer of Barajas last week put Notre Dame right back at the NCAA maximum of 85 scholarships. Hoge’s departure put the Irish at 84 for all of a few hours before news broke of incoming graduate transfer Cameron Smith. The wide receiver from Arizona State put Notre Dame back at 85 for the season. More on Smith’s transfer in a bit.
Transfers Mounting for Notre Dame
Notre Dame has now lost two US Army All-Americans from the recruiting class of 2015 in as many weeks. Neither player has been able to crack the starting lineup, however, in two plus seasons at Notre Dame and neither was going to start in 2017. Hoge could have found his way into the lineup with an injury or two. Barajas on the other hand may have needed even more help as he was drifting down the depth chart.
Overall, Notre Dame has lost three non-graduate transfers in Hoge, Barajas, and Spencer Perry since the end of the season and five graduate transfers – Malik Zaire, John Montelus, Corey Holmes, Justin Brent, and McGovern. With all of the loses, room what at one time was looking like a smaller class of 2018 keeps opening up.