Notre Dame landed its best recruiting class since the arrival of Internet recruiting just two short weeks ago, signing Rivals 5-star prospects Jaylon Smith, Max Redfield, Greg Bryant and Eddie Vanderdoes. The recruiting momentum appears to be carrying over into the Class of 2014, as Rivals 5-star athlete Elijah Hood of Charlotte Catholic High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, is set to visit South Bend on February 23rd.
Hood will receive a sincere welcome courtesy of a coaching staff focus on the Carolinas since head coach Brian Kelly’s arrival in December of 2009. In recent years Notre Dame has signed eight players from the Carolina region, with two from South Carolina (Everett Golson, Chris Brown) and six from North Carolina (Kendall Moore, Prince Shembo, Ben Councell, Matthias Farley, Mark Harrell and Romeo Okwara). The Irish welcome mat should be even familiar considering Class of 2012 signee, Mark Harrell, attended the same high school as Hood.
Notre Dame is recruiting Elijah Hood as a running back, and the Rivals 5-star athlete certainly possesses the requisite materials. In addition to an offer sheet that includes Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State and USC, Hood posted some of the most eye-popping numbers that can be accumulated in high school. In his sophomore season, Hood rushed the ball 223 times for 2,868 yards, racking up an unheard of 12.9 yards per carry. The most impressive statistic comes courtesy of his touchdown total. In one season Elijah Hood crossed the goal line an unfathomable 45 times, making it easy to see why he has earned a #12 national ranking in Rivals’ initial Top 100 for the Class of 2014.
Hood has great instincts and vision. One of Hood’s more noticeable traits is his ability to be decisive – to hit the line running with force and will. He also shows flashes of adaptability, cutting toward holes that may appear as the play unfolds, a positive characteristic given Notre Dame’s zone running scheme. Hood possesses great acceleration and burst off the line of scrimmage, though he lacks home run speed and can occasionally be chased down over long distances. Still, given his size at 6 feet and 212 pounds, Hood has excellent speed. Hood is the definition of a power back, brushing aside multiple defenders on many of his carries. When defensive coaches speak of the need to gang tackle, they’re referencing players such as Hood, who hit every defender with jarring force. Given Hood’s high school offense is predominantly run-oriented, how well he would catch out of the backfield remains a question mark.
This Saturday will be a tremendous opportunity for Notre Dame, as Elijah Hood has already named the Fighting Irish his leader. A good trip to South Bend this weekend will go a long way toward solidifying ND’s position and set the Irish up for the long run in Hood’s recruitment.
Should Notre Dame land the 5-star athlete at some point soon or in the future, the running back position would be the healthiest and deepest it has been in the era of Internet recruiting. The 2014 depth chart at running back would likely include 4-star George Atkinson, 4-star Will Mahone, 4-star Amir Carlisle, 3-star Cam McDaniel, 5-star Greg Bryant, 4-star Tarean Folston and 5-star Elijah Hood. The combination of power and speed, as well as the ability to spell players to avoid fatigue, would give Notre Dame a dangerous ground attack, especially given Brian Kelly’s talent for giving defenses different offensive looks.
The opportunities for the Irish ground game would open up significantly. Already possessing a power back on the squad in Will Mahone, a two-back set with two power runners in Mahone and Hood would give opposing defensives a litany of concerns, particularly in goal line situations. Even a two-back set with a lightning-quick back such as Folston as well as Hood would offer too many checks for one defense to cover.
Given Notre Dame’s extreme success in recruiting at the running back position, as well as its historic offensive line haul in 2013, landing 5-star athlete Elijah Hood would be a major coup for the Fighting Irish program, as well as ensure a dynamic and deep offense for years to come.