Elijah Hood, one of the nation's top-ranked running back prospects, recently created quite a stir with a video posted online. Although the video was taken down, there's a secondhand version at USA Today.
Hood has since apologized, at the urging of his high school coach, to the Alabama staff and fans, but at this point the damage is certainly done. The running back from Charlotte Catholic high school is a prime example of a recruit who needs to be more responsible about the message he puts out.
In regards to my post yesterday, it was wrong and very disrespectful to Alabama. My attempt at humor was immature, and wrong I'm sorry.— Elijah Hood (@EHood34) June 5, 2013
Notre Dame, the school Hood committed to during the spring, and its fans love the shunning of super recruiter Nick Saban by Hood. Twitter exploded at the hilarious antics of a kid having fun with the unwanted letters from a school he does not plan on attending. Hood, himself, believed it was all in good fun.
The problem is that not everyone see things that way.
It's been written about before at Your Best 11, about fans badgering recruits over social media when they decommit or pick a school that is not to the fan's liking, about fans not inserting themselves into the process and not being ugly to these kids who are making decisions about their futures.
Now, we have a "well, he started situation" in which Hood fires the first shot and people feel compelled to fire back. Yes, Hood meant it in jest and, yes, the bulk of the responses on all sides, not just Notre Dame, have been positive. But in the end, there are always fans who want to make it ugly, folks who take everything too far, because they are taking their sports too seriously.
Which brings us to what should be a teachable moment not only for Hood, but also for the rest of the kids going through the process. Being open, giving information and even having fun just being a kid are what social media is all about. But you have to be smart or else you expose yourself to the less than desirable aspects of the medium.
Unlike a player committing to a school or changing his commitment, which usually sets off the firestorm of hatred from rival schools, this was Hood steering onto that slippery slope on his own. And a good number of fans had no problem using vulgar language to bash him and his decision to head to Notre Dame.
For Hood, this is an opportunity to understand the true scope of the high profile recruiting world he now inhabits. For other recruits, it's a moment to understand that their social media life is more than just fun exchanges with their friends and teammates.
And for parents, it's a chance to tell their kids that card-stock paper goes in the recycling, not down the toilet.