Elijah Hood saw something different at Notre Dame this weekend. The five-star running back also saw something familiar.
In barely 24 hours on campus the 6-foot, 212-pound running back from Charlotte, N.C., learned enough about Notre Dame to keep it separated from every other college football program he's seen. The first look at Notre Dame, which includes former Charlotte Catholic teammate Mark Harrell, also struck Hood for its similarities to high school.
"I loved it," he said. "That place is different from every other school I've seen. You can't really put your finger on it. It's not like anything else."
Hood will visit Michigan and Ohio State during his Midwest tour, then check out the Duke-North Carolina basketball game in Chapel Hill on March 9. That's it for planned visits. Hood said he'd like to wrap up the recruiting process soon, adding that when he arrives at the Rivals.com Camp in Charlotte on April 14 that he could be off the market.
That may be good news for Notre Dame.
"They're definitely still No. 1," Hood said. "If I had to make a checklist, all the things I wanted in a school, it seems like they fulfill everything so far. Academics, great football, they have a great community, great people to be around, everybody, just a culture there and a tradition. There's a lot of things."
Hood dove into the visit on Friday, starting with introductions to head coach Brian Kelly, who offered a guided tour of the Guglielmino Athletics Complex. Meetings with professors followed. Hood spent the evening with safety Matthias Farley, a product of Charlotte Christian.
Kelly made his intentions clear, that Hood ranks among the top prospects on Notre Dame's board. Hood knows he'd be following five-star Greg Bryant and four-star Tarean Folston into Notre Dame's depth chart, although that fact doesn't seem to have much impact.
"None," Hood said. "They put the best players on the field. Those guys are great and they obviously earned their scholarships too. They're just going to get recruits that they want to help their team win. They think they can use me to win."
The Notre Dame visit proved noteworthy for what didn't happen too.
As Hood walked the campus for the first time he didn't get approached by students selling the Irish football program or fans looking for a five-star autograph.
"Probably one of the most memorable things is everybody is treated the same there, no one is put up on a pedestal," Hood said. "It's just a real homey atmosphere. It's just different."