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Charlotte Catholic’s Elijah Hood has change of heart, decommits from Notre Dame

By Langston Wertz Jr.
lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Catholic All-American running back Elijah Hood said the real reason he decommitted from Notre Dame Tuesday, causing national recruiting shockwaves, was simple: he wanted to play college football closer to home.

“It’s something I prayed about,” Hood said Tuesday afternoon after practice. “It was a difficult decision but it came down to this: I really valued my family and what they stand for and just being around them. It was a tough decision, but I felt I had to not only do what was right for me, but what was right for my family. It was about being closer to home and I want to have them with me in my development.”

Hood said he didn’t have a short list of colleges and he didn’t have a timetable to name one, though he leaned toward announcing one sooner than later.

Asked would he wait to decide until National Signing Day in February, Hood said, “I don’t know about all that. I know it gets really crazy around then. But there’s only a couple places around here. It will be soon I think....It will be a school within driving distance definitely.”

Notre Dame, in South Bend, Ind, is about a 12-hour drive from Charlotte. There are many schools within, say, a four-hour window to Charlotte, including SEC schools South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee and ACC stalwarts Clemson, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

Hood, a 5-foot-11, 220-pound senior, ran for 3,309 yards and 48 touchdowns as a junior. He was the Observer’s 2012 offensive player of the year.

He is ranked by the Observer and Raleigh News & Observer as the top senior recruit (class of 2014) in North Carolina.

After taking several visits to Notre Dame earlier in the year, a July visit didn’t go so well, Hood’s father, Vee Hood, said.

“Something happened the last time he went up there that he didn’t like,” Vee Hood said. “Something changed his mind immediately. He was scared to tell us. I said there’s no need to be scared. It’s his decision. I told him, ‘You’ve got to be happy wherever you choose to go.’ I know he’s not going to be going to Notre Dame, and I guess that means he’s open to (all colleges) again.”

Hood, whose team opens the season Saturday at home against Gonzaga College High (DC), said he’s been contemplating making this decision for awhile.

“It was awhile ago that I started thinking about it,” he said. “It’s been a long thought out deal. I’ve been trying to fight it (against de-committing). But I can’t change my heart. I was trying to be sure (about Notre Dame) but I was not exactly sure.”

By re-opening his recruiting now – and with him being considered among the nation’s top five running back prospects by many national recruiting service – Hood expects to have to deal with a lot of distractions, as fans and media and bloggers all try to find out where he’ll play.

He said he’s ready for it.

“I’ll handle that,” he said. “I know what I’m doing. I’ve been through this before. Maybe not as intense, but I know what’s coming. I’ll be ready.”

Hood’s Statement

Tuesday afternoon, Hood posted a statement on Facebook about his move to de-commit from Notre Dame:

“I am de-committing from the University of Notre Dame. I have a lot of respect for the University of Notre Dame and its coaches. I specifically want to acknowledge Coach Tony Alford, whom I dearly admire and regret to inform of my decision. Over the past couple of months, I have put much thought into the things that are important. What is most important to me is my family – especially my parents and grandparents. They have been with me through all my life’s accomplishments. Now as a teenager, I am still learning what it means to become an adult. Making difficult decisions that are important to me is part of this process. This decision has nothing to do with football or academics. This decision has everything to do about my family.

“I am deeply blessed to have the opportunities given to me. I am also excited to move forward with the next phase of my life and becoming an adult. However, going forward, the importance of family will never waiver in my decisions. I am eternally grateful to my family for their support in this decision.”

Wertz: 704-612-9716; twitter: @langstonwertzjr; facebook.com/queencitypreps
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