Hood Looking To Step Up For Tigers

Auburn freshman cornerback D'Antoine Hood talks about his role on defense and playing as a freshman.

Auburn, Ala.--There are a lot of unexpected things in the life of Auburn true freshman cornerback D'Antoine Hood during the 2008 season. For one he says he never dreamed the team would be struggling to be bowl eligible through nine games of the season.

Another definitely unexpected experience is that he has started a game at cornerback for the Tigers. With three experienced players heading into the season in Jerraud Powers, Walter McFadden and Aairon Savage, Hood says he didn't expect to see playing time this season and thought he was headed for a redshirt, but things change quickly.

First Savage went down with a knee injury during preseason practice. Because of that one of the freshmen would have to step up to become the third cornerback for the Tigers. Neiko Thorpe won that battle, but injuries to Powers have forced Hood to step up in a time of need.

"I'm surprised because I didn't expect for me to get this much time after Neiko won the nickel back position," Hood says. "That just goes to show you that when people go down you've got to step up and make plays."

That time came on Saturday at Ole Miss as Hood started opposite McFadden and played a solid game for the Tigers. He got tested early and often, but the Phenix City native says that's just part of the game and he was ready for it.

"I kind of figured they were going to come after me the first play of the game,." Hood says. "Arkansas came at Neiko (Thorpe) on the first play and I kind of expected them to come at me the same way. It wasn't really a big shock to me. After that first play I was like ‘okay this is football now' and just let it hang.

"It was a real good experience," Hood adds. "I think I played good. When I saw the film I need to improve on coming to the ball faster and making better tackles."

With Powers and Thorpe both likely out again this week for the UT-Martin game, the job of starting once again falls to Hood. He says because of that he's getting a lot of work with the first team defense, something that has helped him a great deal.

"When you work with the first team you get more knowledge of the game," Hood says. "You see stuff that you wouldn't see working with the second team. Working with the first team you get more experience and train of though, like when this man does this he's going to do this."

Something else that helps Hood in his preparation for games is the chance to talk to his cousin Rod Hood several times a week. A former walk-on at Auburn now playing in the NFL, Rod has been a mentor to his younger cousin since he was little and it has continued at Auburn. Hood also gets advice from Powers and says that it's instrumental in his development as a player.

"He kind of does the same things that my cousin Rod does," Hood says. "Jerraud is a technician, he's all about technique. He tells me every time I miss up ‘I did this or did that'. It's kind of the same way Rod does."

With Powers and Savage out and other players such as Antonio Coleman, Sen'Derrick Marks, Tray Blackmon and Tez Doolittle banged up or out for the season, Hood notes that it only makes him and the young guys push even more seeing how bad their teammates want to be on the field.

"It definitely makes you want to play harder because you never want to let down your teammates," Hood says. "Your team is expecting that when someone goes down you'll step up. I want to do this for myself and most of all my team."

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