2014 RB Recruits Notre Dame Should Target After Losing Elijah Hood

Andrew KulhaSenior Analyst IIIAugust 21, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly looks on during the game against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Notre Dame lost arguably its biggest 2014 commitment Tuesday when 4-star running back Elijah Hood decided to decommit, as reported by Tom Loy of 247Sports

For all intents and purposes, Hood looked like he could have been a special player for the Fighting Irish. He's the No. 5-ranked running back nationally, per the 247Sports composite rankings, and he checks in at 5'11.5'', 222 pounds.

Hood is big enough to be a power back, and he runs as if he is one. With that said, he also runs a 4.48 40-yard dash, per 247Sports, and has great elusiveness, quickness and vision.

On one play, Hood can lower his shoulder, churn his feet and pick up five tough yards. On the next, he could take a flair out of the flats, make two defenders miss and outrun the rest to the end zone.

That's the type of recruit Notre Dame lost yesterday.

Now, to be clear, Notre Dame doesn't need to hit the trail again looking for another running back. The 2013 cycle saw the Fighting Irish already land two stellar backs in 4-star players Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston. 

Bryant, in particular, is the type of back who can do the things that Hood does. He can play strong between the tackles but also bounce it out and make plays. Folston, on the other hand, is more of a scatback type, so Notre Dame should be covered in the backfield because of those two alone. 

The need isn't there, per se, but one wouldn't blame Notre Dame for going out and recruiting another back. After all, depth at that position is huge.

A look at Notre Dame's 2014 247Sports target list does present a few options. 

The first is Donte Thomas-Williams out of Durham, N.C. Hopefully, Notre Dame can convince him that distance won't be a huge factor, unlike with Hood.

Thomas-Williams is 6'0'', 209 pounds (another big back), and he's the No. 12-ranked running back in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite. 

Notre Dame is in the top two of his 247Sports interest list along with Clemson, and then Florida State and West Virginia follow behind. 

He hasn't taken a visit to Notre Dame yet, but considering the loss of Hood, perhaps it's time for Brian Kelly and his staff to start pushing for that.

Another interesting running back option for Notre Dame would be 4-star athlete Nathan Starks. He was dismissed from school in Nevada and is now fighting to become eligible for Cherry Creek High School in Colorado. 

Starks is the No. 10-ranked athlete, per the 247Sports composite rankings. He has good speed and size, checking in at 5'11", 200 pounds. Starks also runs with good pad level and power. He'll be strong in short-yardage situations, but he also has the quickness and vision to cut and make people miss. 

Much like Hood, Starks could do a lot in Notre Dame's offense, so if he sorts out that eligibility issue, he's a recruit the Fighting Irish should definitely make a strong pitch to.

According to Starks' 247Sports interest list, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and USC are his leaders. His 247Sports Crystal Ball is split 50-50 between Notre Dame and Oklahoma.