UPDATE: Notre Dame football recruiting: RB Hood breaks commitment to Irish

South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame’s 2014 football recruiting class took its first hit on Tuesday when five-star running back Elijah Hood withdrew his verbal commitment to the program.

The Irish had had smooth sailing while accumulating 17 verbal commitments in the 2014 recruiting cycle.

The news of Hood’s separation from Notre Dame started online with rumors then a report from Blue & Gold Illustrated, a member of the 247Sports network, before the running back prospect from Charlotte (N.C) Catholic addressed the topic on Twitter.

He hinted at a confirmation before his practice Tuesday afternoon and released a statement later in the evening.

“I am decommitting from the University of Notre Dame,” Hood wrote to start his statement. “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.”

Later in the statement, Hood said the decision was made with his family in mind.

“This decision has nothing to do with football or academics,” part of the statement read. “This decision has everything to do about my family.”

Hood extended a verbal commitment to Notre Dame in late April after choosing the Irish over North Carolina. Once committed, Hood took an active role in pursuing other recruits to join him in the Irish recruiting class.

His recruiting pitches on Twitter drew the attention of other recruits, but that wasn’t the only wave he caused on social media. In June, he infamously flushed Alabama recruiting mail in his toilet for a Vine video, starting the hashtag #RollToilet.

Hood’s decommitment leaves the Irish with 16 verbal commitments in the 2014 class but none at the running back position. The 2013 recruiting haul of Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston softens the blow, but the coaching staff – particularly Alford, the running backs coach, and defensive line coach Mike Elston, who recruits the Charlotte area – worked hard to bring Hood on board.

The 6-foot, 221-pound prospect projects as an explosive power back at the college level. As a junior, Hood rushed for 3,309 yards and 48 touchdowns. He ranks as the No. 14 overall player in the 2014 class according to 247Sports slates Hood as the No. 76 prospect overall and the No. 7 running back.

CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said Hood was the top prospect in Notre Dame’s recruiting class.

“He was a major catch,” Lemming said. “With him added to the two freshmen it was going to give Notre Dame great depth at the running back position.”

The best remaining option at running back for Notre Dame moving forward could be five-star Joe Mixon from Oakley, Calif. The Irish extended a written offer to Mixon this month, but he excluded the Irish from his top list of 10 programs with Hood already committed to Notre Dame. The 6-1, 209-pound Mixon ranks as the No. 10 overall prospect on Rivals. 247Sports slates him as the No. 1 all-purpose back in the country and No. 12 overall.

Though Hood marked the first defection in the 2014 class, the Irish have not been immune to recruit runaways in 2013 following a national championship appearance in January. That month, linebacker Alex Anzalone enrolled at Florida days before he was scheduled to do the same at Notre Dame. In June, defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes backed out of his signed National Letter of Intent with Notre Dame to attend UCLA. All three defections were rated five-star prospects by Rivals.

Five-star running back Elijah Hood is no longer committed to Notre Dame's 2014 recruiting class.