Hood Poised to Break Out

Sophomore is in position to be UNC's starting running back in the season opener.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Larry Fedora has effusive praise for Elijah Hood.

"Special kid."

"Coach's dream."

The North Carolina head coach hails his sophomore running back's work ethic, determination, off-the-field accomplishments (he was on the All-ACC Academic Team last year). And Fedora's biggest concern with Hood? That he gives too much effort in practice.

"The coaches actually slow me down a bit in practice because I'm going too hard," Hood said. "I'm just trying to get the most out of every play. I've only got so much time and I realize that so I'm trying to get the most out of everything I can out here."

In light of all that, it's no surprise that Hood is slated to start UNC's season opener in two weeks against South Carolina, which running backs coach Larry Porter confirmed in a GoHeelsTV interview.

"As of right now we see him as our starter," Porter said. "He's had a tremendous fall camp, he's continued to work hard and get better. We're expecting great things from him."

In a freshman season that was limited by injury, as part of an overall rushing attack that struggled mightily, Hood had 67 rushes for 259 yards with four touchdowns in 2014.  He expects 2015 to be much different.

"I've improved my entire game," Hood said. "Everything's a lot better. My pass protection is better, my reads are better. I'm stronger, I'm faster, I'm really excited about the opportunity I get to play in this offense. 

"I think our whole offense is going to be more explosive and more dangerous this year, so I'm looking forward to it."

(Video by Bill Collette. Paige Hopkins also contributed to this content).

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