Stephenson High School defensive tackle Carlos Hood, who tried to commit to reigning BCS champion Auburn in early March, pledged to South Carolina on Sunday.
The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder selected the Gamecocks among his 15 scholarship offers, which also included Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, East Carolina and South Florida. Hood had nominal interest from Georgia Tech and UGA.
“I was talking it over with my mother and decided to go ahead and commit to South Carolina,” Hood told the AJC. “They won the SEC East last year, and they have a good defense almost every year. They run a 4-3 (scheme) that is a good fit for me. South Carolina is not far from home, so my friends and family will get to see me play. I like South Carolina, and South Carolina likes me. There was no reason to wait any longer.
Hood knows all about the waiting game in recruiting. He confirmed to the AJC he was ready to commit to Auburn “around a month and half ago” before a strange turn of events.
Hood had been offered an early scholarship at Auburn by assistant Tracy Rocker, who left in mid-February for a similar position as defensive line coach with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. While Auburn was searching for Rocker’s replacement, Hood made an unofficial visit to Auburn, liked what he saw, met with coach Gene Chizik and was ready to commit.
“Coach Chizik was excited about me wanting to commit, but told me to hold off until they had a new defensive line coach,” Hood said. “I think they wanted to give the new guy a chance to look at my film and talk over a few things with me.”
That’s when things began to get a little confusing. After Mike Pelton was hired as Rocker’s replacement in early March, Hood immediately called Auburn to confirm another unofficial visit, this time wanting to bring his mother along to officially commit in person to Chizik and his new assistant.
“Carlos was ready to get it over with; I called the cell number of every Auburn coach I had and we didn’t hear right back from them, like we usually do,” Stephenson assistant Corey Johnson said.
“I waited and waited and … nothing; I took that to mean they didn’t want me any longer,” Hood said. “It was disappointing and discouraging.”
Hood said he learned within the last few weeks that Auburn’s coaches wanted to re-evaluate him in person at the team’s prospect camp later this spring before having further discussion on the possibility of committing. “It was disappointing because I had a scholarship offer, and then it was like they wanted me to try out for the scholarship again,” Hood said. “I didn’t feel comfortable with the situation anymore.”
It forced Hood to look closer at the other schools that had been recruiting him, leading to Sunday’s commitment to South Carolina. “It all worked out for the best in the end; there are no hard feelings with Auburn,” Hood said. “South Carolina is the right place for me. I’m happy.”
Hood is the third member of the “Stephenson 14″ to commit, joining tailback Mike Davis and defensive tackle Jafar Mann — both headed to Florida. The DeKalb school has 14 rising seniors that have been offered football scholarships by major colleges.
“Carlos is just as good as Jafar; he’s an unselfish player who does all the dirty work by taking on blockers to let the linebackers make the tackles,” Johnson said. “South Carolina is getting an outstanding player.”
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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