Hood Enjoys UNC Experience

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- North Carolina surprised Elijah Hood, a four-star 2014 prospect, on Saturday with its 43-35 victory over in-state rival NC State.

"I didn't expect it to end like that," Hood said. "But it was exciting and a lot of fun to see a game like that. It was a good game to watch. There was a lot of intensity. It was like a heavyweight boxing match."

In particular, Hood, who was in Kenan Stadium on Saturday with his father and uncle, was amazed by Gio Bernard's game-winning 74-yard punt return.

"I called it during the play before it happened," Hood said. "I was like ‘Oh wow.' My uncle was like ‘Watch him muff the punt and the game would be over.' And then I was like, ‘No, he's going to return it.' And then he retuned it and I was so excited."

Before and after the game, Hood received plenty of attention from UNC's coaching staff.

"They made sure to make an effort to talk to me – all the coaches," Hood said. "I talked to them quite a bit – they did have a game to focus on. They told me why they want me there and how I'd be an impact player and how important I'd be to the program. And they talked about the scheme and how'd I'd fit into it and how they'd give me an opportunity to prove myself on the field."

According to Hood, the UNC coaching staff hasn't decided where it projects Hood – at running back or linebacker. In fact, Hood says both offensive and defensive coordinators are fighting over him.

"The defensive coordinator came up to me and said ‘We need you here,'" Hood said. "I don't know which one is going to get me, but it doesn't really matter to me. I like defense, but the way I'm playing on offense I could see myself having a lot of fun on offense, too."

Hood's prowess as a running back is well known (he rushed for 360 yards and four scores on 18 carries Friday night). What isn't as well known is his impact as a linebacker. On Friday night he saw four defensive snaps, recording two tackles for a loss, including a crucial sack.

"They usually just use me for impact plays [on defense]," Hood said.

Overall, Hood enjoyed his experience in Kenan Stadium on Saturday.

"I liked it," Hood said. "I enjoyed the atmosphere. I enjoyed myself. I had a lot of fun there."

That sort of experience will only aid UNC in its pursuit of Hood.

Hood estimates that approximately a dozen schools have offered him, though he's likely to have a full choice of schools when all is said and done. To simplify his recruitment, he is in the process of establishing a narrowed list of schools.

"I'm trying to eliminate," Hood said. "I'm trying to eliminate and get down to ten schools, maybe. And then I'll look at those ten schools really hard. And then from there get to a top five and then keep narrowing it down until I can figure out where I want to go.

"I'm looking for good academics, good football team, great program, good fan base, where I feel at home, and all the off-the-campus type stuff too – how the players act off the campus and the influences."

Hood isn't sure when he'll announce his initial ten. However, he knows three schools that will likely make the cut – Clemson, UNC, and Notre Dame.

"They fit the criteria and I've been to those schools or I've met somebody that has gone to those schools," Hood said.

Hood has visited Clemson and obviously UNC. In the case of Notre Dame, he is relying on the word of former teammate and current Fighting Irish player Mark Harrell.

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