California offensive line coach Zach Yenser saw Pocatello (Id.) Highland offensive lineman Tristen Hoge during the spring evaluation period, and wanted to offer way back in early July. Just a couple days ago, Hoge finally got back to Yenser, and early Wednesday afternoon, the 2015 four-star hauled in an offer from the Golden Bears.
Why did it take so long for Hoge to get back to the first-year coach?
"Well, we actually calculated it, ourselves: We were gone for 72 days this summer," said the 6-foot-5, 287-pounder. "We've done the FBU circuit, the NFTC circuit, all the different camps that there were, all the circuit camps and a few college camps, as well, and visited a few colleges, so it was a wild summer for me, but definitely one of the best."
When he finally did get back to Yenser, the two eminent conversationalists talked one another's ears off.
"I was definitely humbled to have been offered by them. I was definitely very excited – as anybody would be," said Hoge, who's more than well-equipped to carry on, with a sparkling 4.2 GPA. "I was just sitting up here in my room, and in my mind, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is exciting!' I was going crazy. I had a great talk with coach Yenser, and I really appreciate him getting back. I know it was a while before I got back. It was quite a busy summer for me, and it was good to finally get to touch base with him and got a conversation."
Hoge – Scout.com's highest-ranked player ever to come out of the Gem State – is ranked No. 26 overall in the 2015 class, and is the No. 1 offensive guard.
"It gives me the drive to keep working hard, and to keep that position on that ranking board," Hoge said. "It gets me woken up in the morning, ready and fired up to get going. It's definitely one of my drivers in the morning, and throughout the day. I want to maintain that, and it definitely humbles me to be there, and let my actions speak for themselves."
Able to play all across the line, Hoge said he's been playing center as far back as he can remember, though some schools do want him at tackle.
"[Yenser] showed a lot of interest at center, and since I've played center practically my whole life, that's what I've been recruited most at," Hoge said. "I've been mostly specified as center."
Hoge visited Stanford, Notre Dame, LSU, Florida, BYU, Utah, Boise State and Oregon – among others -- this summer, but didn't make his way out to Berkeley. That's going to change soon.
"After my season, we might run down there," Hoge said.
Hoge's Rams went 9-3 last season – losing in the state semifinals – and run an offense very similar to the Bears. Like Cal, Highland runs with a two-foot split between linemen, and they run and pass with equal frequency.
"We run more of a spread type of offense," Hoge said. "We split between running the ball and passing the ball, depending on the situation, but we definitely mix it up. My head coach does a fantastic job. He definitely knows football, and it's good to have that, to experience all the different kinds of formations and positions that there are, to play on the offense. It's definitely good to experience that in high school."
As he would in the Bear Raid, Hoge – who serves as the Rams' center – makes many of the offense's calls at the line, including cadence. Luckily for him, Yenser wants him to anchor the middle of Cal's line.
"Making line calls and doing the direction calls, that's how we do it at my school, making that cadence and connecting with the other offensive linemen – telling them what's going on," Hoge said. "Off of my film, he took notice that we do run a similar offense to them, and that's really good in choosing a player, and also a player choosing a college. It's a quick learn, even with different terminology. It's good to fit into that easier, and I like how some of the colleges I've visited have done that. It's good to know that there's some place that runs the exact same offense as my high school."
Of course, Yenser, himself, ran the same offense now installed at Cal while a lineman at Troy, and his youth is one of the big attractions for Hoge.
"It seems like they know the experience a lot better," Hoge said. "They know how to explain what the process is like, because they seem to be more fresh with their techniques, their skills, how college football is run. That's not saying that any coach that's older isn't bad, at all, but they tend to have knowledge of the newer types of recruiting, technology-wise, which has changed over the past few decades. They seem to have that secret knowledge that nobody seems to know."
Academics are a huge factor for Hoge, as well, and though it's still early, he already knows that Cal is an academic "powerhouse."
"I definitely know that they are a powerhouse, and I've researched them before," Hoge said. "They have a lot to offer, for me. I love science and I like math, so I've been looking into engineering as a major in college, and they definitely have a lot of engineering programs that I could go into. They definitely have a lot to offer, and that's what I like to see. I'm ready to learn more.
"That's probably one of the biggest things that I look for in making my decision. I take pride in my academics. I always have. I take pride in getting straight A's, and I look forward to going somewhere that will help me get my degree, as well as places with good football. I want to go somewhere that can find me a career that I love, that I want to do, and that will help me learn and develop as a person."
A Gem of an Offer
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