5-star recruit Elijah Hood is one of the better athletes in the 2014 class, and it appears as if the Notre Dame Fighting Irish possess the early lead for his commitment.
That said, with both Michigan and Ohio State receiving visits as well, and considering both Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer's respective abilities on the recruiting trail, should this be worrisome to the Notre Dame faithful?
While it's never, ever, a smart idea to count out Meyer, and the same is quickly becoming true of Hoke—for all intents and purposes Notre Dame has made a big-time impression with the elite running back/athlete recruit.
Here's what he had to say about his recent visit to South Bend, per Pete Sampson of IrishIllustrated.com:
"I loved it," he said. "That place is different from every other school I've seen. You can't really put your finger on it. It's not like anything else."
He went on to say that Notre Dame was No. 1 on his list, according to Sampson's report:
"They're definitely still No. 1," Hood said. "If I had to make a checklist, all the things I wanted in a school, it seems like they fulfill everything so far. Academics, great football, they have a great community, great people to be around, everybody, just a culture there and a tradition. There's a lot of things."
Finally, the talented depth chart at running back doesn't appear to be an issue, per Sampson:
Kelly made his intentions clear, that Hood ranks among the top prospects on Notre Dame's board. Hood knows he'd be following five-star Greg Bryant and four-star Tarean Folston into Notre Dame's depth chart, although that fact doesn't seem to have much impact.
"None," Hood said. "They put the best players on the field. Those guys are great and they obviously earned their scholarships too. They're just going to get recruits that they want to help their team win. They think they can use me to win."
Overall, this is huge news for the Fighting Irish, especially considering the talent that Hood possesses.
He's 5'11.5'', 209 pounds and he runs a 4.51 40 according to 247Sports. He can play either running back or inside linebacker, though he project best as a running back. Considering the quotes about the depth chart, it looks like that would be Notre Dame's intention from the start.
Hood is ranked as the No. 6 athlete in the 2014 class according to the 247Sports Composite.
Obviously it's tough to consider anything a lock in the world of recruiting until that fax is sent in on signing day, but everything seems to be pointing to Hood really liking what Notre Dame has to offer.
From an offensive standpoint, he would fit the scheme and could be a big-time back for the Fighting Irish behind Bryant and Folston. He's a bruising downhill back that just so happens to have great footwork, quickness and elusiveness.
He has the ability to run strong between the tackles in power running situations, but he is also quick enough to bounce it outside and be an effective edge runner. Actually, if you take a look at his running style he's a bit of a combination between Folston and Bryant, which means he has the potential to be very good.
Hood would also fit into Ohio State's offense, and he could even be an effective option in Michigan's pro-set, so it's going to take more than scheme or depth chart to win over the talented recruit. Note: It's worth mentioning that he'll have talented running backs in front of him at all three programs.
Where will Hood commit?
With all of those factors being equal, this very well could come down to affinity, and it sure seems like Hood has formed quite a connection with Notre Dame. Stacking the deck even further in the Fighting Irish' favor is the fact that he wants to make his decision soon, and possibly as soon as April (per Sampson), so that gives less time for another program like Michigan or Ohio State to try to change that affinity for Notre Dame.
In the end, could the Buckeyes or Wolverines out-recruit Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish for Hood?
Yes, it's certainly possible, especially in the unpredictable world of recruiting.
That said, you have to really like Notre Dame's chances of landing the 5-star recruit when all is said and done.