Notre Dame football recruiting: Some other top RBs still available

ND Insider

Elijah Hood was a major catch in Notre Dame’s recruiting class of 2014. Hood, added to freshmen Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston, was going to give ND great running back depth. He was the top prospect in the Notre Dame class currently being assembled.

There are a whole lot of things that go into the thinking of a 17-year-old and the biggest decision in their life to that time.

College coaches aren’t allowed to call players until Sept. 1, and a player’s shift in August almost always means family members or friends want them to stay closer to home. When you’re that many miles away from your school of choice, you start getting cold feet.

Hood, who is now committed to North Carolina, was the centerpiece of this class to work on other top prospects. I hope it doesn’t start a trend, but if Notre Dame doesn’t get off to a great start, you always wonder if other players will start wanting to leave.

A lot of kids commit early and if they switch, they do so at the end of the cycle, not now.

Notre Dame still has some very good running backs, but he was the top-rated player in this class. It showed that Notre Dame could go into ACC country and land a five-star player, who they’ve now lost.

It sets them back a little bit, although Notre Dame is resilient.

The fact, however, that they have Bryant and Folston on campus already softens the loss a lot. Bryant is just as good as Hood. And Amir Carlisle is doing very well.

There are still a number of running backs out there, including Leonard Fournette of New Orleans. He is the best running back in the country. Another is Shai McKenzie of Washington, Pa., who is the best back in the East. Another out that way is Jonathan Hilliman of St. Peter’s Prep in New Jersey. He’s the best in that state.

The best running back on the west coast, Joe Mixon, is still on the board. Mixon, in my opinion, is as good as Hood and in California you’ve got Mike Denbrock, one of Notre Dame’s best recruiters. He actually might be better than Hood. His competition is better.

Another guy is Derrell Scott out of North Carolina. He’s very good. Another in that state is Donte Thomas-Williams.

Overall, Fournette is the best. He runs a 4.39 40-yard dash and averages around 13 yards a carry. Notre Dame also has offered Kameron McKnight from the Baton Rouge area, although I would project him as a backup at ND.

The best backs out of Florida have for the most part committed to other schools.

Hood is a big, strong back who runs the 100 meters in 10.9 seconds. He has good vision and balance, can run between the tackles but also can hit the perimeter with his speed, balance and body control. He has everything — a power back, who’s a little bit like Bryant.

I would say he was equal to Bryant, and you always need depth at running back, which is the position where it seems the players get hurt the most.

More than that, it was a symbol of the 2014 class for Notre Dame. He was the centerpiece, like Jaylon Smith was last year.

What hurts is that because they had Hood, they knew they probably weren’t also going to get a Fournette or Mixon. Now they have to come back on those guys when there’s been months where it seems like you’re going another direction.

National look

Notre Dame is in the mix for a top-10 recruiting ranking, but losing Hood really hurts and knocks them out of the top 10.

But top-10 lists in recruiting mean nothing right now. It’s just for the fans who are bored to look at something. It really means nothing until early January when classes are starting to be formed.

Some classes may be close to being done, but the superstars typically wait until January.

So yes, Notre Dame drops out of the top 10 by losing its best player, but the Irish can work their way back in by landing great players late.

They’ve still got some great players on the horizon.

South Bend Tribune/ROBERT FRANKLIN DE Jarron Jones (94) during public practice inside Loftus Sports Complex on Saturday, April 13, 2013, in South Bend.