Apr 29, 2013, 3:20 AM EDT
After a slow start to recruiting this spring, the 2014 group received a huge jolt when blue-chip running back Elijah Hood pledged his commitment to the Irish on Sunday evening. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder is Rivals’ top-ranked athlete, No. 12 prospect overall, and has offers from North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State, USC and more. Hood spent the weekend with his parents in South Bend, and upon returning home Sunday night made his commitment official via Twitter.
Hood’s commitment isn’t a complete surprise, but the timing certainly is considering Brian Kelly wasn’t even on campus this weekend. With the Irish head coach in New York at the NFL Draft (where he was part of the telecast on the NFL Network), Hood spent time with running backs coach Tony Alford and player development director Ernest Jones, along with North Carolina natives Matthias Farley, Romeo Okwara, and Mark Harrell. From all reports (and the obvious — an immediate commitment) the visit was a smashing success.
While there’s an eternity to go before recruiting rankings are finalized, Hood currently rates as the highest rated running back in the Rivals recruiting era to pledge to Notre Dame, jumping in front of recent commit Greg Bryant for the time being. Already at 220-pounds, Hood seems like the perfect package of power and speed. He put together a ridiculous junior season, running for 3,309 yards and 48 touchdowns last season. (He’s ran for over 5,200 yards and 83 touchdowns in his career at Charlotte Catholic.) While listed as a athlete, and projected by some as a linebacker, Hood is clearly a running back in Notre Dame’s plans, something he’s fine with, especially after seeing the size of the Irish linebackers in person.
For the Irish coaching staff, adding Hood into the fold should be galvanizing for a recruiting class that’s picking up steam. With eight commitments and a class that might not even get to 20, adding Hood now could have the same star effect that Jaylon Smith’s commitment did last year.
Hood doesn’t plan on taking any additional visits and will graduate in June ’14 and head to South Bend. He and his family plan to return to campus soon to spend some time with Brian Kelly, but his commitment sounds as firm as it can be at this point.
“There are plenty of good schools close by,” Hood told the Charlotte Observer Sunday night, “but there’s something about Notre Dame. It’s a great place with so much history and tradition. They have stuff I couldn’t have dreamed of. They wowed me. They took my breath away at times. I knew it was the place.”