BYU senior offensive lineman Tristan Hoge said the thought really never even crossed his mind.
The opportunity for Hoge to become a graduate transfer was real. This generation of college football players always seems to be looking for the bigger, better deal.
Hoge graduated from BYU this spring with a degree in political science. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive guard would have made a pretty attractive prospect if he had chosen to look around.
“Coming back was something I knew I wanted to do,” Hoge said. “I transferred once before and it was a hassle. I didn’t see the point in transferring. I have great relationships and good stuff here with my coaches, my team and my brothers. Transferring would have been a tough pill to swallow and a jolt to my life that I didn’t need.”
Hoge started all 13 games in 2018 for the Cougars on the offensive line after transferring from Notre Dame and redshirting one season. He started the first five games of the 2019 season including a double overtime thriller in Tennessee and an overtime victory at home against No. 25 USC.
But Hoge injured his leg during the opener against Utah and struggled to fight through the pain. Hoge was held out of the South Florida game on Oct. 12 and eventually shut down for the rest of the season.
“It was definitely a difficult transition to having to sit on the sideline and watch,” Hoge said. “It was a good thing to do to get my leg back. We had some young guys that really stepped up to the plate. Kudos to every guy that stepped up. It’s tough but there’s definitely a kind of pride that goes into seeing your other guys do well.”
Hoge said he was fully recovered going into spring football and looking forward to establishing himself again as a starter and a leader.
The COVID-19 virus had other ideas.
“We came into the SAB (Student Athlete Building) one day and everyone was sitting around deliberating,” Hoge said. “It seemed serious. We wondered if school would shut down. We thought maybe it wouldn’t affect us as much because we live in the mountain states. Not even 20 minutes later when we came back from lunch we got a group text message. When we heard spring ball was going to be canceled, that’s when it kicked in for real. It was a whirlwind like I’d never experienced. It was pretty surreal.”
Hoge has spent much of his time since then at his family home in Pocatello as he finished his winter course load. His father, Marty, bought some free weights and set up a makeshift gym for his son in the garage. Tristen Hoge said he does body weight exercises and goes on runs as well. He posted a picture of one of his workouts while wearing a Starlord Guardians of the Galaxy mask.
“It’s been pretty chill,” Hoge said. “Our professors have been pretty good about working around the shutdown. They didn’t overload us too much. I’m still learning. Most of my classes were functioning online anyway.”
As for football, Hoge is still adjusting to the new normal.
“The crazy thing is we missed our spring game and our team banquet,” Hoge said. “A lot of things have gone by the wayside. I was going go to school this spring. Right now, I’d be walking to class.”
Hoge said he plans on getting a master’s degree on public administration. He keeps in contact with offensive line coach Eric Mateos through texting and sometimes jumps online to play Call of Duty with one of his teammates.
“The coaches, they are up in the air as much as anybody,” he said. “They wish they had all the answers but right now nobody does.”
Hoge said he’s still looking forward to the 2020 football season in whatever form it comes. He’ll face stiff competition as well since the Cougars lost just one senior (Thomas Shoaf) from the two-deep.
“We have a lot of guys returning with experience,” he said. “Now is the point where we just have to see what the best lineup is. We have a lot of talented young men and we’re going to have to see who the best five are going to be. Getting spring cut short is an unfortunate hindrance. We could have a lot of different combinations. Maybe the best five is a group of seven, who knows?”