Larry Fedora received some excellent news on Tuesday evening when Charlotte Catholic running back Elijah Hood verbally committed to become a Tar Heel just a week after de-committing from Notre Dame. Hood, a 2014 recruit, announced the decision on Twitter.
Scout.com has Hood listed as the #1 running back in North Carolina and the 7th best in the nation. In his high school opener on Friday night, Hood rushed for over 300 yards and five touchdowns. While there is always some caution necessary when viewing prospects, the consensus is Hood is a legitimate talent which his offer list also confirms. Combining Hood with current Tar Heel T.J. Logan, UNC is slated to have a strong running game in the coming years.
Or will it? SB Nation recruiting expert Bud Elliott has floated the idea that Hood, who also plays linebacker, might be better suited on the defensive side of the ball.
But I have questions about Hood as a running back at the next level. He does not display great vision, and too often gets away with just putting his head down and barging straight ahead. That works in high school, but won't in college. He also doesn't seem to have the ability to make defenders miss. I wasn't expecting Hood to be Barry Sanders, but he is a far cry from an Eddie Lacy; a back with a similar build, who routinely made defenders miss for Alabama.
That is not to say that Hood can't play running back in college, but rather that finding the right fit is important. Hood is not suited for a shotgun team that runs a lot of zone. He would probably be most successful for a team that runs 21 or 12 personnel, with a lot of man blocking (especially power).
If Hood does pick the right system, perhaps for a team slightly below the top echelon of college football, I can see him being an extreme workhorse, touching the ball 25 times per game.
Ultimately, though, I believe Hood should play linebacker because he does not seem to have the natural instincts and feel for the running back position. His size, surprising length (for a 5'11 prospect), strength, athleticism and aggressiveness should translate well to the position.
Hood also has a reputation as a solid person and teammate, which is a refreshing change from some of the stories told about star recruits.
Wherever he plays, Hood has the physical talent to be an impact player. It also turns out, he is not above doing things like flushing letters from Alabama down the toilet, something he calls "Roll Toilet"
I look forward to seeing Hood flush NC State and Duke items down the toilet.