Pitt got a bit of a surprise addition on Tuesday with the late pickup of Texas offensive lineman transfer Brandon Hodges.
Next stop! pic.twitter.com/ELZEWp5LCG— Brandon Hodges (@BHoD_31) July 25, 2017
Hodges is a graduate transfer with one year of eligibility. He'll be available to play immediately this season. As of now, Narduzzi hasn't yet acknowledged it but it's being reported by numerous outlets.
Pitt seemed mostly set at offensive tackle with returning starter Brian O'Neill (now moved to left tackle with the departure of Adam Bisnowaty) and Jaryd Jones-Smith but Hodges' addition gives Pitt more experienced depth. He was a starter at right tackle last year at Texas but looked to be a potential backup in 2017. That was looking more like a possibility after sitting out part of this spring with academic issues.
I'm not sure where this leaves Jones-Smith, to be honest. My guess is that he gets the first shot to start but will have Hodges breathing down his neck. Hodges can also play guard, so if Jones-Smith is dominant at tackle, he could also potentially push for playing time there, too. This could be the second time Jones-Smith has a starting job taken from him. In 2015, it was due to injury. Now, it could be to competition from a late addition. That's kind of a bummer for him if he doesn't hold onto the job but Pitt also has to improve the team whenever they can. This move does that, if even just from a depth perspective.
As I said with quarterback Max Browne, I can't imagine Hodges is transferring for his final year to ride the bench. I expect he'll have a legit shot to start somewhere and if he doesn't start, he'll be playing a lot, I would imagine.
Another guy that stands to potentially lose playing time is freshman Jerry Drake. He was highly-touted as a four-star recruit and was listed as the backup right tackle in the most recent depth chart. He almost certainly gets leapfrogged by Hodges if Hodges stays at right tackle. Freshman Justin Morgan was listed as the backup at right guard behind Alex Bookser. If everyone stays healthy, this has the look of a redshirt year for Drake, which is probably a good thing for the team.
But we're still a long way from having this completely sorted and training camp will clear a lot of things up.