GREENSBORO Elijah Hood has yet to play in his first college game but already he is doing things at North Carolina that people around him have never seen. Some of those things involve physical feats and others are more mental.
First, the physical. Hood, a former standout at Charlotte Catholic High where he became one of the most sought prospects in the nation, recently squatted 605 pounds. Quarterback Marquise Williams, also from Charlotte, was there and was, predictably, impressed.
Ive seen offensive lineman doing that, but hes a running back squatting 605? Williams said Sunday during interviews at ACC Kickoff. Ive never seen that a day in my life.
Hood enrolled early at UNC, arriving in Chapel Hill in January. His strength, apparently, is something that comes naturally to him. So is coach Larry Fedoras up-tempo spread offense.
Fedora raved Monday about Hoods grasp of the offense. Keep in mind that Hood has yet to go through his first preseason practice, and that hes still more than a month from his first college game.
In what we do, (the running back has) got to be able to pass protect, hes got to know protections, hes got to do a lot of things, Fedora said. I will tell you that (Hood) blew me away in how quickly he picked those up.
Faster than any freshman running back Ive ever had, in the way he picked up the offense. I mean, he was doing things that Ive never had a freshman running back do. And Im talking protection, Im not talking about carrying the football.
As much as anything, Hoods grasp of the offense and his ability to pass protect if it translates to the field on game days could lead to early playing time. The offensive line is likely to experience some early growing pains while it figures out how to adapt amid the loss of two key starters a season ago.
The ability to block effectively, then, will be essential for UNCs running backs. Hood, perhaps the most heralded member of the incoming class, will compete for time in a crowded backfield that also includes T.J. Logan, who was among UNCs best incoming players last season, and Romar Morris, who has excelled at times the past two seasons.
Logan and Morris are known for speed and elusiveness, while Hood, listed in UNCs media guide at 6-foot and 220 pounds, runs with a more punishing style. Fedora said Hood would prefer to run through obstacles, not around them.
Hes 225 pounds, hes got great speed and he likes to run into things, Fedora said. You know, he really does. When he breaks through, hes not necessarily looking to avoid contact. Hes looking for somebody to run into. Our team, their team. Doesnt matter to him. Its just he wants something to hit.
Fedora finished his thought and then began to smile. He said, joking, that it might be fun for reporters to come out and experience first-hand what he was talking about.
I think it would be a great thing, maybe, (for) you guys to come out to practice and suit up one day and we let Elijah just like run into each one of yall, Fedora said. I think it would be fun. Itd be fun for him, too, it really would.
I think itd be a good experience for you. You would get the true understanding of what its like.
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