In my final offensive line rankings before the draft, I had a scheme fit and draftable grade on BYU’s Tristen Hoge, so I'm pretty excited that Joe Douglas was able to add the guard via free agency following the draft.
Tristen Hoge was a heavily recruited centre out of Highland High in Idaho, having twice won the Idaho Gatorade Player of the season, in fact, he was ranked the #1 centre in the nation and the #1 player in Idaho during the 2015 recruiting cycle. He received a number of offers from top college programs including Stanford, Penn State. Michigan State, LSU, Florida, BYU and Boise State.
Hoge ended up committing to Notre Dame and although he redshirted in 2015, he was named the scout team player of the year. In 2016 he had the opportunity to compete for the starting centre job at Notre Dame, but lost out to senior Sam Mustipher (undrafted in 2019, currently with the Bears). He then tried his hand at RG, and despite him receiving positive reviews at the position he couldn’t beat out Alex Bars (undrafted in 2019, also currently with the Bears) who was moving inside from RT to make way for Tommy Kraemer (undrafted in 2020, signed with the Lions).
With a log-jam in front of him and more highly touted recruits arriving every single year in South Bend, Hoge decided to move to increase his chances of playing football. He decided on BYU, a team that had originally recruited him aggressively. Due to NCAA rules, Hoge was required to sit out the 2017 season before making his debut for BYU in 2018, Zach Wilson’s first year with the team.
Hoge started every single game of the 2018 season at right-guard, with BYU beating Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl after going 7-6. BYU put up over 350 yards per game in 2018 and Hoge was a big factor in the rushing attack posting over 150 yards per game on average. Physically dominant at points, Tristen showed that finishing mentality consistently and despite it being his first extended action as a guard at the college level, he allowed just 2 sacks, 2 hits and 12 hurries on 450 pass-blocking snaps.
In 2019 the BYU offense took another step forward, which surprised many considering the tougher schedule. The offense averaged 444 yards per game and the rushing attack, led by a committee approach put up 160 yards per game. Zach Wilson was never truly healthy and that showed as he threw 9 interceptions against just 11 TD’s with backup QB Baylor Romney completing 63.5% of his passes for 747 yards, 7 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions in relief.
Despite it being a successful season on the field for BYU, it was a frustrating one for Hoge, who was only able to play 5 games due to a leg injury. In fact he injured his leg during the first week and played on through the pain for another month before finally having to take a seat. Facing much tougher opponents (ranked teams like USC, Washington and Utah) and playing with an injury, Hoge’s numbers dipped as he allowed 4 sacks in just 208 pass-blocking snaps.
With Zach Wilson having returned to full fitness, BYU were hopeful that with their experienced line they could take advantage of an easier schedule where they would face just 2 ranked opponents in 12 games (a win at #21 Boise and a loss at #14 Coastal Carolina). Hoge was a huge factor in that line and when he was healthy he looked like a dominant inside force, constantly blowing defensive lineman off the ball.
Unfortunately for Hoge, he contracted COVID before also contracting Pneumonia. Despite these setbacks Hoge was able to return and appear in 8 games for BYU as the Cougars went 11-1 defeating UCF in the Boca Raton bowl. Hoge put up his best season in 2020 with BYU being credited as having one of the best if not the best offensive line in all of college football.
BYU put up an astounding 524.2 yards per game, including 192.1 rushing yards per game. The Cougars made running behind Hoge a staple of the offense and playing the outside zone scheme, Hoge was able to show not just his power but his ability to block on the move as well. Tyler Allgeier was the beneficiary of the line rushing for 1130 yards and 13 touchdowns with Wilson enjoying a phenomenal season that took him from competing for the starting job, to being drafted #2 overall by the Jets.
In over 400 snaps last season, Hoge’s PFF grade jumped from 59.6 in 2019 to 82.0. He didn’t allow a single sack in over 200 pass-blocking snaps and allowed just 1 hit and 2 hurries on Zach Wilson all season. If at times Hoge’s play was slightly inconsistent with flying off the ball, remember how little experience he had at guard, and how he’d had to battle injuries and illness over the last two years of his college career.
There’s a reason why Hoge was so heavily recruited coming out of high school and why a powerhouse program like Notre Dame recruited him vehemently. He’s got big hands, plenty of strength and showed that athleticism on multiple occasions. Had Hoge not lost a huge portion of his 2019 season and a good portion of his 2020 season, he would have been drafted at some point.
I’m not sure how many teams were in contact with Tristen Hoge following the completion of the draft, but I can almost guarantee the Jets weren’t the only ones looking to secure his signature. However, I can see why he’d want to sign here in New York, and while having Zach Wilson here is a positive, I think the current situation at right guard is factor #1.
The Jets drafted highly-touted guard Alijah Vera-Tucker in round one to take over at LG, with the expectation that Alex Lewis is likely to be cut at some point to free up $5.1 million if cut pre-June 1st or $6 million if cut post-June 1st, with the Jets potentially using that money to sure up the cornerback position.
The situation at right-guard is a little murkier. Greg Van Roten is the presumed starter as of today, but he was highly inconsistent last year and most Jets fans were hoping he’d be replaced at some point this year. The Jets did sign Dan Feeney, but statistically, he’s been one of the lowest-rated guards in football. Cameron Clark who was drafted in the 4th round by the Jets last year out of Charlotte is in the running for playing time after basically taking a redshirt season in 2020 and Teton Saltes who is another UDFA may move inside to guard to compete.
What we’re basically saying here is that the right guard position is largely vacant right now, and waiting for someone to make it their own. That man could be Tristen Hoge.