By Adam Aniba
The reports out of training camp have been riddled with injury updates, particularly at tight end. Aside from UDFA LB Drew White, who'll miss the season, the injuries have been minor. John Bates should be on the practice filed today, after dealing with a calf strain and Logan Thomas is still rehabbing his surgically repaired knee.
Rookie Cole Turner and second year TE Sammis Reyes are currently dealing with strained hamstrings. Another UDFA will get a chance to run with the first and second team this week. That UDFA is TE Curtis Hodges and he's hard to miss in practice, standing 6'8".
6'8" 240 lbs | TE | Nevada
Career (39 games 14 starts) 36 rec for 601 yds & 4 tds with a 16.7 YPR
2021 (12 games) 20 rec for 374 yds & 2 tds with a 18.7 YPR
Hodges attended Mountain View HS in Mesa, AZ. As a dual sport athlete in football and basketball. He had a breakout season during his senior year, registering 50 receptions for 733 yards receiving and earning All-Section honors as a WR. Hodges ranked as a 3-star prospect as the #4 WR prospect in the state and the #10 overall prospect in the state ranked by ESPN.
Hodges accepted an offer to play for Arizona State for the '17 season, among an extremely deep receiver core. He appeared in 9 games during his freshman season. Although reps at receiver were limited, he made his presence felt on special teams. Hodges recorded 2 timely blocked punts on the year, with game-changing block vs #5 Arizona in ASU's upset win. ASU's coaches understood how to utilize his length, which led to the timely blocks.
Over the next two seasons, Hodges was primarily utilized as a reserve WR and on special teams, recording only 129 yards 1 TD from '17-'19. Fast forward to 2020 and HC Herm Edwards decided Hodges would best be utilized as a tight end. Although he only played in 3 games during the season, he recorded a game clinching 74-yard TD vs in state rival Arizona.
After only 3 games played his senior year, Hodges returned for one more season as a graduate student. Coach Edwards decided to leave Hodges at tight end full time and it paid off. In '21 Hodges reached career highs in nearly every category, most notably season games played with 12. The tight end registered 374 receiving yards for 2 TD with and a 18.7 yards per catch average.
Hodges was was named Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 in 2021, his first full year at the position. He was also named the Levi Jones Most Improved Player by the coaches. Hodges finished his final season ranked 2nd in the Pac-12 among tight ends with a 71.8 run blocking grade (32 among FBS TE's). HIs 18.7 yards per catch ranked him #20 in the FBS and 2nd in the Pac-12 among tight ends.
Impressive length and catch radius for the position (34.5" wingspan)
Displays suddenness and burst off the line
Impressive football IQ, most notably with situational football (always looking for the 1st-down marker and extends for extra yards after contact)
Strong hands and snags catches with authority
Concentration issues are few and far between, frequently extending for receptions before looking up filed
A willing blocker who excels at setting the edge and utilizes his length when extending run plays
Lack of statistical production over 5 seasons is a concern (only 1 full year as a college TE)
YAC was nonexistent at times, doesn't utilize stiff arm enough to break tackles
Issues gaining separation at times allowing DB's/LB's to push him off his routes
Overall speed is less than desirable for the position (4.85 combine 40- yard dash time)
Functional strength is a concern, most notbaly his lower body
Had issues at times with over the shoulder catches
During the pre-draft process, experts questioned the lack of tape for Hodges at tight end. Viewed as too slow to play receiver and lacking the overall functional strength to be a full time tight end gave teams pause, resulting in Hodges going undrafted.
In a crowded tight end room, it'll be an uphill battle for Hodges to make the roster as a potential 4th tight ned. Working on his overall strength and route running need to be an emphasis.
He'll get reps in training camp this week with a few of the tight ends still ailing. The practice squad is likely his ultimate destination thought, but former NFL HC Herm Edwards has prepared him mentally for the next level, albeit limited career reps at tight end. He also showed his value on special teams, while at ASU and pre-season will be an opportunity for him to make a name for himself.
*Games Watched- 9/2/21 vs S.Utah, 9/18 vs BYU, 9/25 vs Colorado, 10/2 vs UCLA, 10/8 vs Stanford, 10/16 vs Utah, 10/30 vs Wash St. & 11/13 vs Wash
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