Elijah Hood’s life is full of compelling contrasts.
There’s the Elijah Hood who runs through (not around) defenders, ruthlessly punishing anyone who gets in his way on the football field. The 6-foot, 220-pounder amassed 1,463 yards — 16th most in the country — and 17 touchdowns for the North Carolina Tar Heels last season.
And then there’s the Elijah Hood who still carries around his Eagle Scout card in his wallet — physical proof of the community service, leadership and merit badges he conquered as a teenager.
He earned the Eagle Scout award April 20, 2014, as a member of Troop 172 in the Mecklenburg County Council in Charlotte. And rather than seeing Scouting and sports as conflicting draws on his time, Hood noticed a symbiotic relationship. Scouting helped him on the football field, and vice versa.
In Hood, we see proof that the ideals of Scouting stay with you long after you swap shoulder loops on a Scout uniform for shoulder pads under a football uniform.
Journalist Andrew Carter profiled Hood in the Charlotte Observer, and his piece is worth taking the time to read, especially for Hood’s quotes like this one:
“It’s like, in my brain,” Hood said of Scouting’s values. “It’s just a general work ethic and dedication kind of thing. The honesty, trustworthiness. The wake-up-every-day-and-kind-of-put-your-best-foot-forward kind of attitude. Try to be the best citizen you can be — the best person you can be.”
Hood is the only Eagle Scout on the Tar Heels this season, and Carter brought up the possibility that Hood is the only Eagle Scout playing Division I football this year.
“A couple, maybe,” Hood said. “Maybe none. Maybe just me. That’d be really weird if it was just me, though. I’d feel like a weird alien or something. I think there has to be more.”
(Side note: If you’re aware of an Eagle Scout playing college football this season, leave a comment below.)
As perhaps the lone Eagle Scout in his sport, Hood says he feels an obligation to the be the best citizen he can be.
No problem, considering Hood has been fulfilling obligations his whole life. There was the sixth-grade promise to his grandmother that he’d become an Eagle Scout. And there was the Eagle Scout service project, where he built a new parking lot for his church while balancing exams and high school All-American games.
And now he’s doing his best as a student-athlete to balance bone-crunching hits on the field with service off it.
“I love playing football. I love my team. I love my community, I love my city, love my state,” Hood said. “So what’s the greatest way to show you love something than to sacrifice for it?”
Be sure to read the full story about Hood at this link.