Five days after Josh Barajas left South Bend to join the Illinois State Redbirds, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish may announce today that they’ve lost another backup.
Irish Illustrated is reporting that junior Tristen Hoge, a 6-foot-4, 303 pound guard/center is “about to be out.”
“It’s interesting in that he was a highly rated guy coming out of high school, as was Barjas. A true center,” said Scout’s Tim Prister. “It just wasn’t clicking for him. When you consider that this is a guard heavy or interior offensive line heavy group right now and Hoge would be an interior offensive lineman. Playing time just wasn’t in the future here, probably not in 2017.”
Scout’s Pete Sampson added: “I think he didn’t want to practice — be a practice player for a third straight year and figured he could go somewhere else where he could definitely start for his final two years. I don’t think he would have definitely started here in 2018 and 2019, but highly, highly likely. He probably would have been an overwhelming favorite to start both of those years.”
The rest of the conversation is here.
Transfer news always prompts a certain amount of agita among Irish fans, although Notre Dame has had at least one player depart every summer since 1980 (and probably before that). It’s no surprise why this happens: Notre Dame is returning eight offensive starters and seven defensive starters. With so many high-caliber players entrenched, it’s natural that a backup -- who received numerous scholarship offers — would believe that he could be starting somewhere else.
Of course, nothing is guaranteed at the next destination.
“I didn't want the challenge to dissipate at the end of the day,” the Kettering, Ohio product told Gator Bait. “Coming from Notre Dame, you're playing top games every week, and I wanted to continue that trend. I didn't want to run from the challenge, I wanted to embrace the challenge."
You could argue that Zaire is doing exactly what he says he’s not doing — running from a challenge. But if you listen to Zaire’s interview with Irish Sports Talk, it’s clear that he needed to leave Notre Dame because he lost faith in Coach Brian Kelly’s ability to use him properly. It’s hard to meet a challenge if you can’t get yourself on the field.
Freddy Canteen seems to share similar motivations.
Canteen was a Brady Hoke recruit who never could seem to catch Jim Harbaugh’s eye while playing for the Michigan Wolverines. Some of that was inevitably due to his shoulder injury. Canteen gets a chance this summer to hit the reset button, but he’ll join an already crowded Notre Dame receiving corps.
Canteen set aside an offer from the Florida Atlantic Owls, which could have meant more playing time, for a chance to play against top defensive backs on the Georgia Bulldogs, USC Trojans and Michigan State Spartans. Few can parlay outstanding play against Conference USA foes into an NFL gig. But to succeed at Notre Dame (or at Florida)? That’s impressive, considering the quality of their opponents.
After the transfer is announced, we’ll be sure to offer analysis on how his position group will be affected by the departure.