Born to Run
charlotte catholic’s hood
has Football in his Blood
By DaN Gu TTENPLaN
chaRLo T Te ca ThoLic high schooL football coach Jim oddo remembers his first encounter with star tailback Elijah Hood.
Hood was 10 or 11 at the time and his fa-
ther, Vee, was being inducted into the Charlotte
Catholic Athletic Hall of Fame. oddo introduced
the elder Hood, who rushed for more than
1,800 yards as a senior in the late 1980s, calling him “one of the best running backs [he’d]
ever seen.” oddo remembers seeing Elijah’s
eyes light up as the coach introduced his former tailback.
“Elijah was sitting there and I’d put a book
together of all of his father’s highlights,” coach
oddo said. “Elijah was turning the pages very
slowly. His eyes were getting big. I smiled and
said, ‘Elijah, your daddy was a horse.’ He rolled
his eyes. You could tell he was admiring how
much his daddy did.”
When all is said and done, Elijah Hood will
likely do more for Charlotte Catholic than his
father or uncle, Boo, who was inducted to the
Hall of Fame the following year. The 6-foot- 1,
220-pound tailback is on pace to break all of
the school’s career rushing records – many of
which are held by his father or uncle.
“They were both outstanding players in their
time,” oddo said. “I think Elijah’s the best of the
three. I kid his dad a lot, but they were all good.
Elijah is very put-together. His teachers all love
him. He’s received a tremendous amount of at-
tention, and he handles it well. He’s very well
Hood earned the starting job during the
playoffs of his freshman season and hasn’t
relinquished the spot since. As a sophomore,
he rushed for 1,982 yards – 150 more than his
father did as a senior in 1989 – and 35 touch-
downs. Last year, as a junior, Hood finished with
a Mecklenburg County-record 3,309 yards and
48 touchdowns and led Charlotte Catholic to
the North Carolina 3AA championship game.
“My dad was my inspiration,” Hood said.
“Every child wants to make their parents proud.
Just to be able to do that is a great thing. He’s
been a great inspiration for me and the fact
that I love the game helps. I’ve always wanted
to be the best. That’s the first thing I came for.”
Hood didn’t have a seamless start to his
football career. He first took the field in a flag
football league at the age of 5, but after struggling to adapt to the non-contact rules, he quit
the sport for two years.
“I was a violent kid and I kept tackling, I
guess,” Hood recalled. “I had to stop playing
and wait until I turned 7 to put on the pads. I
didn’t want to play anymore because I was tired
of getting penalties.”
Even when he returned to the field, Hood
played on the offensive and defensive lines due
to weight restrictions at the Pop Warner level.
He didn’t move to his natural positions of run-
ning back and linebacker until high school.
“Football definitely came a little bit easier for
me,” Hood said. “I liked to hit and I was really
big for my age. The thing that helped me was I
was a very physical player as a child. I would play
Pop Warner with the biggest boys in my age. That
toughened me up. I came in playing with older
children, so age never mattered to me.”
Good bloodlines will only take an athlete so
far, as Hood realizes, so the two-way star made
the commitment to be better than his father
once he entered high school. oddo calls him
the “hardest working kid in the weight room and
the strongest kid in the school.”
Taking on a heavy workload has never been
a problem for Hood, who maintains a 3. 67 GPA.
He carried the ball 278 times as a junior and
averaged 11. 9 yards per carry. He collected
220.6 rushing yards per game without the ben-
efit of any stat-padding late in games.
“He has a motor that doesn’t quit,” coach
oddo said. “You can’t beat his heart. When he
runs the ball, he can carry a defender a yard or
two. He gets off the ground and he has a look
that he’s not happy. The next one, he might only
get a yard or two again, but he’s coming hard. He
wants it every down. That makes him special.”
Hood is constantly studying other running
backs to seek out tips. His favorite part of the
game is the mental preparation – watching
game film and breaking down an opposing
“I’m a student of the game,” Hood said. “I
love looking at formations and positions. Foot-
ball talk gets me excited. I love watching college
games and NFL games to see how a whole
beautiful play breaks down. I know what I’m do-
ing out there and that sets me apart.”
In April, Hood committed to an athletic
scholarship at Notre Dame for the fall of
2014. He received offers from more than 20
Division I schools.
“I envision myself doing very well in college,”
Hood said. “That’s the only thing I can put my
eyes on. That’s how I envision myself – as a
playmaker. I want to help my team on and off
the field; that’s the only way I see myself in
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FRiDa Y nigh T Foo TBaLL noRTh caRoLina 2013