Alford's running back unit won't experience anything close to Happy Camp in August (or spring) 2014, either. Not with Hood joining the six-man crew of 2013, all of which are non-seniors and likely to be in the fold entering next spring.
What they will experience, and what head coach Brian Kelly has always hoped to foster, is daily competition. Dog-eat-dog…may the best man (or in modern times, best "men") win…survival of the fittest.
Listed at 6'0" (he appears taller on film) 220 pounds, Hood is a light-footed battering ram with a second gear. More important, he has a unique, innate quality possessed by precious few: he runs with anger.
Plenty of 'backs are determined. Plenty run with purpose. Hood runs with complete disregard for his body, caring only for the extra yardage available in his path.
That disregard for his body will endear Hood to old school Irish fans that remember the halcyon Holtz-ian days of Notre Dame running backs. Its a style that will also likely equate to some injuries compiled over his four seasons in South Bend, but that's the case with most big 'backs that crave contact in exchange for yards and points.
A few Irish Eyes message board posters have compared Hood's style to the legendary Jerome Bettis. Others to recent senior season phenom Jonas Gray. I see a former teammate of Bettis' in Hood's gait: Tony Brooks.
Both were in the 6'0" 220 range (Brooks topped out at 230). Both possessed lower body strength. Both cared more about yards after contact than do most 'backs. Both more quick than fast, more power-based than elusive, and both utilize a natural runner's instinct to move through scrimmage, through traffic, and into the opposing secondary.
And the anger.
Could Hood emerge as a true freshman contributor as did Brooks in 1987? And as a sophomore star as did Brooks for the 1988 national champions thereafter?
2013 represents a transition year for the program in the backfield. None of the five runners Kelly inherited (Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood, Jonas Gray, Robert Hughes, and Armando Allen) are on campus. But while '13 users in a new era, its 2014 that could see a youth-filled backfield by season's end.
Following in the (expected) footsteps of Bryant in 2013, look for Hood to contribute as a true freshman upon arrival. Not to be the lead 'back, but to serve as a weapon in what should be the best offense of the Kelly era (2014-15). A timely occurrence considering the program's stout defensive line will likely take a veteran hit with the loss of nose guard Louis Nix and defensive end Stephon Tuitt (the latter after 2014 if not sooner).
While dual-threats such as Carlisle, McDaniel, and Folston operate in a different realm, old school 'backs Hood and Bryant will put pressure on veterans such as Atkinson and Mahone as big 'back options for the 2014 backfield.
That competition won't produce a modern version of "Happy Camp," and the Irish program is better off for it.