Tuesday, 30 June 2020 14:25

Hood named to 'Big 22' list of players to watch ahead of senior season

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ROCKINGHAM — Since he won the starting quarterback job as a freshman during the summer of 2017, Caleb Hood has been in the local limelight for the Richmond Raiders.

The last three seasons have seen him and his teammates rise to prominence, and now as he prepares for a hopeful senior season this fall, Hood’s recognition is reaching the state level.

A University of North Carolina commit, Hood was named as part of WSOC-TV’s “Big 22 Players to Watch” for the 2020 campaign, the 11th year of the accolade.

“It’s pretty cool being selected to be a part of such a talented group of players,” Hood said. “Being named is an honor, but I wouldn’t have the chance without the help of my teammates, offensive line and wide receivers.”

Prior to Channel 9 making the announcement, Hood said he hadn’t really heard of the “Big 22” list. It was through conversation with some of his future Tar Heel teammates that he found out what it was, and Richmond head coach Bryan Till delivered the news to him last week.

“It was very surprising to me to be selected,” Hood shared. 

Of the 22-member list, which features top prospects from both North and South Carolina, seven others will be teammates with Hood at Chapel Hill. 

Joining him are other verbal commits Gavin Blackwell, DeAndre Boykins, Power Echols, Drake Maye, Dontavius Nash, Kobe Paysour and Gabe Stephens.

During his junior season last fall, Hood captained a Raider team that went 13-1 and made its first appearance in the 4AA state semifinals since 2008. He threw for 2,175 yards and 21 touchdowns, and used his dual-threat capabilities to add 976 rushing yards and 16 more touchdowns on the ground.

Hood was also named to his third All-Sandhills Athletic Conference team, while earning the “Offensive Player of the Year Award.”

As a big question mark looms over the upcoming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hood is continuing business as usual. 

While he and his teammates, or any other Richmond student-athlete, haven’t gotten the green light to resume workouts from the school district, he’s been mastering his craft on his own time.

“I’ve been doing lots of running, especially hills,” Hood said. “I go out to the field several times a week and work on throwing and connecting with my receivers, and I have a work out station set up at my house.

“I just want to play, even if the fans aren't allowed to come,” he added of wanting to play his fourth year of high school football. “I think I speak for a lot of my teammates when I say I just want to play with my friends and my brothers one more time.”

Having improved success each of the last three postseasons, going from a first-round exit as a freshman to a fourth-round appearance as a junior, Hood said the recognition is a welcomed pressure as he gears up for one last ride.

“This motivates me just knowing there are eyes watching me, which makes me want to get the ball to my playmakers,” Hood said. “I want to get them attention, too, and give them an opportunity to get the ball and make plays.”

A complete list of the Channel 9 “Big 22” is listed below in alphabetical order. An asterisk denotes a UNC verbal commit:

Gavin Blackwell (WR, Sun Valley) *

O’Mega Blake (WR, South Point)

DeAndre Boykins (RB Central Cabarrus) *

Power Echols (LB, Vance) *

Michael Gonzalez (OL, Sun Valley)

Julian Gray (WR, Hopewell)

Jack Hollifield (LB, Shelby)

Caleb Hood (QB, Richmond) *

Shaleak Knotts (WR, Monroe)

Drake Maye (QB, Myers Park) *

Elijah Metcalf (WR, Mallard Creek)

Dontavius Nash (DB, Hunter Huss) *

Bryson Nesbit (TE, South Mecklenburg)

Robbie Ouzts (TE, Rock Hill)

Kobe Paysour (WR, Kings Mountain) *

Jordan Pool (LB, West Stanly)

Travali Price (DT, North Lincoln)

Evan Pryor (RB, Hough)

Will Shipley (RB, Weddington)

Cameron Smith (RB, Olympic)

Gabe Stephens (ATH, Mountain Island Charter) *

Dameon Wilson (LB, Kings Mountain)

Last modified on Tuesday, 30 June 2020 15:49

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

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