First, it was highly touted 2013 DT recruit Eddie Vanderdoes, who changed his commitment from Notre Dame to UCLA. Now, 2014 RB recruit Elijah Hood (4-star – ESPN, 5-star Rivals.com) has apparently changed his mind about playing for the Irish as well.
Speculation quickly turned to certainty when Hood acknowledged the change earlier today with this message:
It’s fairly evident that North Carolina will be the benefactor of Hood’s change. You can’t really fault the kid for wanting to stay close to family, just like you couldn’t fault Vanderdoes for the same reason. Decommits are extremely tough on a coaching staff. They put a lot of effort into convincing these young men to attend their universities and play for their programs (and not always in that order). The biggest difference between Hood’s situation and Vanderdoes is that at least Hood’s decision allows the coaching staff to try an pursue other players before National Signing day is over.
So how can Notre Dame replace him in the 2014 recruiting class? It won’t be easy, but there are options out there. And it begins with the #1 overall RB recruit, Leonard Fournette out of St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, LA. Fournette is a big back, weighing in at 226 lbs, but has speed as well as power. He might not be the best fit for head coach Brian Kelly’s spread offense, though. He also won’t be easy to land, being pursued by the likes of LSU, Alabama, and Florida State, just to name a few.
After Fournette, the pickings get a little slim (by Notre Dame standards), based on who they’ve contacted thus far. There’s the #30 overall RB Nathan Starks (Englewood, CO), #67 ranked Kurt Scoby (Monrovia, CA), and #82 ranked Ashton Jackson (Dayton, OH).
But do the Irish even need to purse another running back in 2014? As the it stands now, they have seven backs on the roster, and only George Atkinson III (JR.) and Tyler Plantz (SR.) have a chance to be gone in 2014 (Atkinson potentially to the NFL, Plantz – a career back-up, will graduate). That also includes last year’s #2 overall running back Greg Bryant. But, if the staff believes that have a reasonable shot to woo Fournette to South Bend, you better believe they’ll jump at the chance.
So while the loss of Hood will sting the egos of coaches and fans alike for awhile, it won’t be the end of the world. The running back position will still be in good hands.
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