UCF Knights starting defensive back Justin Hodges has been dismissed from the team, according to a statement from UCF provided to the Orlando Sentinel’s Jason Beede.
According to reports, Hodges was arrested Thursday on a charge of home invasion with a firearm and mask when he and two other men, wearing masks and carrying firearms, barged into the apartment of a girl’s ex-boyfriend.
A statement from the school, obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, confirmed that he was dismissed, saying “Justin Hodges has been dismissed from the football program. Per university policy, the UCF student conduct process will be initiated.”
Brandon Helwig at UCFSports.com first reported the arrest.
So, what does this mean for the team?
Let’s place aside all legal implications, which seem quite serious, for a moment.
Hodges was the starting Knight flex position, a hybrid DB/linebacker. It’s not an easy position to master. It requires the speed of a defensive back with the power and technique of a linebacker.
His backup this past season was freshman Nikai Martinez, who played in all 14 games, making 21 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and two pass breakups. Martinez will have the upper hand in assuming the starting role, but there is time for head coach Gus Malzahn to scour the transfer portal for another player.
During his time at UCF, Hodges became a starter during the 2021 season as a sophomore. He started the final 10 games that season and 14 games in 2022. He finished his UCF career with 78 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 16 pass breakups, and a forced fumble.