You didn't actually think Notre Dame would make it to the start of the season without any more drama, did you?
Notre Dame's wild offseason began just days after its BCS Championship Game loss to Alabama with head coach Brian Kelly's flirtation with the Philadelphia Eagles and continued with the Alex Anzalone, Manti Te'o, Everett Golson and Eddie Vanderdoes stories. Tuesday, it took one final twist before the Irish officially reach game week leading up to their season opener next Saturday against Temple.
Running back Elijah Hood, one of the Irish's top 2014 recruits, decommitted Tuesday, per Tom Loy of 247Sports. Hood had verbally committed to Notre Dame on Apr. 28, following a weekend visit to South Bend.
Hood was rated as the No. 14 overall prospect (5-star) by Rivals.com and No. 76 by 247Sports (4-star). He did not address the issue directly, but did make a statement on Twitter that appeared to confirm the report.
For everyone wondering the answer is yes now im going to practice— Elijah Hood (@EHood34) August 20, 2013
North Carolina, less than three hours away from Hood's hometown of Charlotte, N.C., is now the frontrunner to land Hood's services, according to the 247Sports report. Reasons for the decommitment remain unknown, although distance from home seems like a likely cause.
If there was a position at which Notre Dame could afford to lose a commit, it is running back. The Irish signed two running backs in the 2013 class, Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston, and 2012 signee Will Mahone still has four years of eligibility remaining. USC transfer Amir Carlisle has three years of eligibility remaining after redshirting in 2012.
Notre Dame's 2014 class now stands at 16 with just under six months remaining until National Signing Day on Feb. 5. The class currently rates as the No. 11 class in the country by 247Sports' 247Composite rankings, which factors in rankings from multiple recruiting reporting outlets.
Despite the running back depth, the loss of Hood is a significant blow to what had the potential to be a top-five class by February. Of course, the farther away from National Signing Day that a decommitment occurs, the more time the coaching staff has to pursue other options.
If there was an ideal conclusion to Notre Dame's offseason, Tuesday's decommitment from its top recruit may have been it. As if the Fighting Irish coaches didn't have enough on their plates with the season just 11 days away, running back recruiting is now surprisingly back on the table.