Last month, a surprise late addition to the 2017 Pitt football roster was made with the news that former Texas starter Brandon Hodges was transferring to the Panthers with immediate eligibility.
I wrote at the time that Hodges should have a strong chance to start since it would make little sense for him to come here if he didn't when he could go elsewhere and do that. At the very least, he would get considerable playing time. Hodges is just getting his feet wet with the team but by the sound of things, starting is a real possibility.
Brian O'Neill, the de facto leader of the offensive line, was impressed with him today in camp. "I think that he's going to come in and give us a game-ready option right now," O'Neill said. "He looked really good out there today."
O'Neill was asked about Hodges some more and added to his earlier assessment. "He's done a great job so far of picking up stuff," said O'Neill. "He's picked up stuff really quickly, so we're really happy about that and he's done a great job for us. I'm excited about what he can do because that's an extra addition that we didn't have in the spring or summer. Some guys have to pony-up and see what they can do."
Hodges can play guard but Pitt looks slightly more set there with experienced starters Alex Bookser and Alex Officer. Now, Pitt could have kept Officer at center and that would have opened up a spot at guard for Hodges. But Officer has moved to guard and the team is breaking in a new center with either Connor Dintino or Jimmy Morrissey. Part of me wonders if they would have went with that plan if they knew that Hodges was coming sooner. Regardless of that, though, if Hodges is going to start, his best possibility would seem to be at right tackle where the Panthers have been relying on Jaryd Jones-Smith, who has only four career starts.
Another possibility for Hodges would be to start for Bookser, who is suspended in the first game, and see where that goes. Maybe he remains a guard or maybe he moves to tackle. Heck, maybe he plays both all year.
But as I said, even if he doesn't start, he should see plenty of playing time. You just don't get guys of that caliber to transfer to your program to ride the bench.