High School: St. Thomas Aquinas (FL), previously Cardinal Newman (FL)
Measurables: 6-foot-1, 212 pounds
Ranking: Four-star (.9089 composite), No. 246 overall, No. 14 ILB
Other finalists: Miami, Minnesota
Accolades: Under Armour All-American, 1st Team All-County, 1st Team All-League, 2020 State Champion
If there was one prospect anyone who follows Michigan recruiting would have predicted not to end up in the class from the summer on, it was Jaydon Hood.
Hood committed in late May without ever having visited campus. This is usually a cause for concern, especially for someone from South Florida, where one or two flips is the norm. Then, Hood backed out of a visit during the season when most of the class, including his teammate Ja’Den McBurrows, gathered on campus together for a game.
Furthermore, Hood announced that he wouldn’t be signing during the early signing period in December. That’s strike one, two, and three for most recruits.
But somehow, during a pandemic that hasn’t allowed him to see Ann Arbor in person, uncertainty over whether his future head coach would even still be there and a fired defensive coordinator, Michigan still convinced Hood to change his mind and sign with Michigan.
For a while there, it looked like Hood wouldn’t be much of a loss. He transferred to perennial powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas for his senior year from Cardinal Newman. At Cardinal Newman Hood was a stud, racking up 115 tackles and 25 TFLs as a junior. But St. Thomas Aquinas was the big leagues and a new challenge.
After an extended offseason, Hood started out slowly in his new system. He only contributed 37 tackles in the team’s first six games, even getting benched for the second half of some games. But the light turned on for Hood for his team’s last three games. In the homestretch of the playoffs, Hood racked up 34 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble to help St. Thomas Aquinas capture a state championship.
Taking the step up to Michigan will be an even bigger challenge. It might take a while for Hood to adapt, but when he does, he has the chance to be special.
Freshman (9 games): 51 tackles, 7 TFLs, 4 sacks, 1 INT
Sophomore (11 games): 55 tackles, 12 TFLs, 5 sacks, 1 FF, 2 FR, blocked punt
Junior (10 games): 115 tackles, 25 TFLs, 7 sacks, 5 FF, 2 INTs
Senior (9 games): 71 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF
- Physical and aggressive tackler
- Stays balanced through contact while in pursuit
- Disengages from blockers quickly
- Can be prone to taking false read steps
- May be undersized for Michigan’s new defensive scheme
- Questions about performance against top competition
At 6-foot-1, 212 pounds, Hood was the prototypical size for a middle linebacker under Don Brown. He’s quick and aggressive, chasing down ball-carriers from all over the field.
Hood should be able to add up to twenty more pounds, but he may not be able to reach the 240-250 range without sacrificing his explosiveness if that’s what the new defensive coordinator wants.
When going after the ball, Hood has great balance to fight off blocks and not get knocked off course. He has a wrestling background, which looks to help him with leverage and staying upright. Hood uses his hands well to disengage and takes good angles to the ball.
Sometimes, Hood can get sucked in by misdirection and take false steps away from the direction of the ball. Because of his aggressive nature, this takes Hood a little bit longer to recover, but his speed helps him make up for it.
In the passing game, Hood is good in zone coverage but can look a little stiff. There isn’t a ton of film on Hood defending the pass, though.