Outside of Michigan football’s projected starting lineup, few players have done more to increase their odds of receiving substantial playing time than third-year linebacker Jaydon Hood.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, Hood is approaching an ideal frame for his position. The Florida native has seemingly come out of nowhere recently following easily forgettable first two years. But heading into his junior season, he’s got a real opportunity ahead of him to make some noise.
The story so far
Hood hails from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he played three years of football at Cardinal Newman High School before transferring to St. Thomas Aquinas. As a four-star recruit, per the 247Sports composite, Hood was the No. 247 overall player in the nation. Being from the south, Hood garnered attention from several SEC and ACC schools such as Alabama, South Carolina, LSU, Texas A&M, Florida State and Miami.
And for good reason. As a junior, Hood was extremely productive — registering 115 tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions, while being named a small-school first-team selection in Florida.
Ultimately, Hood chose Michigan on the opening day of the early signing period, along with high school teammate Ja’Den McBurrows.
As a true freshman in 2021, Hood see a ton of action. His sophomore campaign, while almost equally unremarkable, did see him appear in multiple contests at the non-conference level.
Outlook for 2023
Word out of fall camp is Hood has continued to play with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. We got a glimpse of his newfound potential during Michigan’s annual spring game, where he dominated the defensive in Junior Colson-esque fashion.
Now, with just days until the kickoff of college football season, it’s starting to look less and less likely that performance was a one-hit-wonder, especially considering Jim Harbaugh had glowing remarks yesterday during his fall camp press conference.
Michael Barrett also took a balcony-view approach to coaching up the young linebackers. Asked about the offseason success of his position group during media availability last week, Barrett offered this bit of feedback.
“Jaydon Hood — I feel like he’s made a bigger step up from last year,” said Barrett. “He’s coming along pretty fast, learning and being able to help us step into that next spot.”
The sixth-year senior isn’t the only one who has been outspoken on Hood’s behalf. During an annual practice-coverage special by the Big Ten Network, defensive coordinator Jesse Minter named Hood specifically as being a player to look out for at the second layer of the Wolverine defense.
“I think at the second level, Jaydon Hood is a linebacker that has progressed to add depth to our linebacking core,” Minter said.
Ordinarily, one or two offseason mentions are nothing to gush about, but one can’t deny that it’s beginning to feel like Hood could wind up being one of 2023’s biggest surprises.