Idaho lineman favors BYU

The Cougar coaching staff is busy scouting out the top talent that fits BYU's unique football program. One is a 6-foot-6-inch, 275-pound offensive lineman that comes from the same Idaho high school as a familiar BYU quarterback.

Only a sophomore, Tristen Hoge isn't built like an underclassman. The 6-foot-6-inch, 275-pound Idaho native already possesses the size and strength of one ready to play college football.

"My max squat is 485 and my max bench is 325 right now," said Hoge. "As far as the positions I play on the offensive line, I go between tackle and center and have been playing center my whole life.

"At center I've always had a little extra snap in my ball and getting the snap off quickly and into my drive blocking technique. I work really well with the others on the line and I communicate really well with my teammates to get them all on the same page."

For his accomplishments last season, Hoge received a number of honors.

"I was named a MaxPreps sophomore All-American this year and a first-team selection this year," he said. "I was an all-state first-team in football and in academics. I was invited to the U.S. Army All-American combine and I was also first-team all-combine in that as well. Those are my most recent awards and accolades."

Last summer, Hoge made the trip down the I-15 to Utah where he attended a Junior Day at Brigham Young University. Although the trip was cut short due to an injury to a friend who accompanied him on his visit, Hoge's visit was an exceptional one that culminated with a verbal offer.

"It was an amazing experience," said Hoge. "BYU's campus is just amazing and their academics are topnotch," Hoge said. "It was on Dunior Day last summer, and I intend on coming back out as well this year. I had a great experience out there and BYU's campus is just amazing.

"Coach Mendenhall is just a great guy and I had a really good connection with him," Hoge continued. "He's a coach that really cares for the players. Just from the little experience that I've gotten from being there, I could see how much the environment would impact me in a positive way. BYU is a place where academics, football and personal development is important, and so I think those three areas of emphasis would impact me positively. When BYU offered me I was astounded. Out of all the offers I have, BYU is top of my list right now."

Hoge currently favors BYU because of everything the school offers in addition to sports.

"I just think BYU has a priority that's different than other colleges," said Hoge. "BYU puts academics and personal development first before football. Without having great character and work habits you won't get the most out of football, and so BYU has put it all together to help student athletes get the most out of the college experience."

Hoge has done some personal research on BYU, and what he's learned has made him like the school even more.

"I've looked up a lot of their academics and BYU has a lot of classes that I want to study such as science and law," Hoge said. "BYU just has the type of classes that fit me and what my interests are. I want to go into the field of forensics, so science and law together is something that interests me. I'm just really excited that BYU has great programs that fit me and what I want to do."

Hoge comes from a LDS family and views the religious side of BYU as a plus.

"Religion is a good thing because I love my Heavenly Father and I thank him every day for giving me these opportunities in life," said Hoge. "I keep religion a part of my life and that's why a college like BYU fits in well with me. Religion is a big part of my life and why BYU is one of the top schools on my list."

Hoge is the nephew of former Pittsburgh Steeler and Chicago Bear running back Merril Hoge, who played eight seasons in the NFL. Merril Hoge retired from the NFL in 1996 and is a football analyst for ESPN.

"Honestly, I don't see him that much, but when I do, he's a good uncle," said Hoge with a chuckle. "It's good to get his thoughts on what he thinks about things such as recruiting and football and stuff like that. He'll give me little tips here and there, but I don't see him as much."

Merril played college football for the Bengals of Idaho State, where he was a three-time all-conference running back selection. But there is another player of Pocatello fame that Tristen Hoge has met and that is closer to the BYU program.

"I have talked to Taysom Hill before and he comes down here once in a while to say hi to our coaches here," Hoge said "He's a great guy and I watched him play as a young kid all the time. He's just one athletic player and it would be a privilege to snap for him one day. Our coach shows up old film of him and he was just a great athlete. Like I said, it would be great to play with him one day."

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