RB Elijah Hood Joins Cast of Recruits Leaving NC

Larry Fedora and fellow coaches in the state of North Carolina hope to bring in more local talent in future seasons.
Larry Fedora and fellow coaches in the state of North Carolina hope to bring in more local talent in future seasons.

On Sunday, Charlotte Catholic High School running back Elijah Hood committed to Notre Dame. Hood rushed for 3,309 yards as a junior and scored 48 touchdowns while leading Charlotte Catholic to the state 3AA championship game.

Rivals.com considers Hood a five-star prospect and the 12th best prospect in the class of 2014.  Of Rivals’ top five prospects in North Carolina in next year’s recruiting class, three have committed to schools outside The Old North State. Davidson native Will Grier has committed to Florida, while Charlotte Christian tight end Jeb Blazevich is committed to Clemson.

This is merely an extension of a recent trend of top recruits from North Carolina spurning the local schools to sign out-of-state. Of the 21 players considered top-five in the state by either Rivals or Scout from 2011 to 2013, only two have signed with in-state schools.  UNC landed both of those players, 2013 running back TJ Logan and 2011 quarterback Marquise Williams.

Running back Todd Gurley rushed for 1,385 yards during his freshman season at Georgia, including nine 100-yard games.  He, along with fellow NC native and freshman Keith Marshall (759 yards) made Georgia one of the best rushing teams in the nation last year.  Gurley earned Freshman All-SEC honors, along with Florida offensive lineman DJ Humphries (Mallard Creek) and defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard (Shelby Crest).

The last five-star prospect from North Carolina to sign with a local school was offensive lineman Robert Crisp. Crisp, from Raleigh’s Athens Drive High School, joined NC State in the class of 2010 and will be a returning starter for the Wolfpack in 2013.  Hood makes the seventh North Carolina player since Crisp to commit to an out-of-state school with a five-star rating from either Rivals or Scout.

The 2010 recruiting class also included a five-star player from North Carolina who left the state. Keenan Allen of Northern Guilford High School was considered the top safety in the nation by both Rivals and Scout. Allen signed with California, where he converted to wide receiver and became the school’s leading receiver in history in just three seasons. Allen was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the third round of last weekend’s 2013 NFL Draft.

There are still North Carolina players up for grabs in the 2014 recruiting class.  Trevion Thompson is a four-star wide receiver from Durham Hillside High School, while defensive end Kentavius Street from Greenville’s J.H. Rose High School has garnered some five-star ratings.  However, both are projected to leave the state by recruiting experts. Clemson is considered the frontrunner for Thompson, while Georgia leads the chase for Street’s services.

That’s not to say there couldn’t be a shift in the recruiting tide in the state. As recently as 2009, North Carolina schools cleaned house on in-state talent.  Of the nine players given a four or five star rating by Rivals from North Carolina that year, eight committed to either North Carolina or Duke. Seven of those eight signed with the Tar Heels, composing what was expected to be one of the best classes in the nation that season.

However, it turned out to be a snake-bitten group of players.  Linebacker Justin Dixon enrolled instead at East Carolina. Defensive back Josh Hunter transferred. Cornerback Terry Shankle suffered a torn ACL during his redshirt freshman season.  Linebacker Hawatha Bell was dismissed from the team in 2010, and defensive lineman Jared McAdoo was dismissed from the team the following year.  Not long after McAdoo’s dismissal, head coach Butch Davis was fired as part of the scandal surrounding the football program.  Defensive end Donte Paige-Moss entered the NFL Draft after his junior season (leaving a Twitter tirade in his wake) but went undrafted.

Meanwhile, Desmond Scott (another Durham Hillside product) went to Duke. Scott has been a versatile weapon for the Blue Devils, rushing for 1,159 yards and receiving for another 1,214 over four years.  The other premier North Carolina recruit in that class, Jack Britt High School’s Xavier Nixon, started 33 games on Florida’s offensive line during his career and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Washington Redskins on Monday.

So while David Cutcliffe, Dave Doeren, Larry Fedora, and Jim Grobe will be trying to beat each other on the football field at their current posts, they are also locked in battle on the recruiting trail with each other and a plethora of SEC and ACC schools to keep the state’s best talent from fleeing to opposing schools.


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