The 90 Illini #79: Malachi Hood
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Here's how I think of Malachi Hood in this class: he was the first one in line when recruiting finally opened up again. There were no face-to-face recruiting visits from March 12, 2020 until the beginning of June in 2021. Once visits were allowed again on June 1, 2021, here's the Malachi Hood timeline:
- June 1: Works out in front of Illinois coaches, receives an offer.
- June 6: Takes official visit to Illinois.
- June 7: Commits to Illinois.
That's some efficiency right there. It's like Black Friday at Best Buy. You waited outside for days, you're the first one through the door, you grab the 80" flatscreen, and you're the first one to check out. Done and done.
So for me, Malachi Hood is our "guy who waited 15 months for recruiting to start again and then was the first one in line when it did" recruit.
79. Malachi Hood
Uniform number: 45
Year in school: True Freshman (5 years to play 4)
Height: 6'-2" -- Weight: 210 lbs.
Hometown: Plainfield, Illinois
High School: Joliet Catholic HS
Five best offers: no other offers published
Tom Cruise rating:
Hood was mostly a safety in high school but was at linebacker this spring (he enrolled early in January and went through spring ball). And going back through my LLUOI article there, I was guessing linebacker when watching his film. He seems like a kid who will play at 230 lbs, and that's gonna be a linebacker.
In fact, this spring, with him wearing the number 45 (Khalan Tolson's old number), I kept having to remind myself that it wasn't Khalan Tolson. He's not as strong as Tolson (although I'm guessing Tank eventually gets him there), but he has a similar frame and running style to Tolson.
This is where I can answer a question someone asked me (on Twitter I think?) about the number of linebackers on the roster. The question (paraphrased): "Don't they need, like, 10 linebackers in this class? Where are the linebackers?"
My answer is always to point to the two linebacker coaches. Since this defense calls defensive ends "outside linebackers" (it doesn't just "call" them that, they are outside linebackers), there's one coach for that spot (Kevin Kane). Andy Buh, the inside linebacker coach, is then only coaching two positions. Call them "Mike" and "Will" linebackers if you want, but it's more or less just two rather identical inside linebacker spots.
And even though it might not feel like it - mostly because Lovie's roster carried 11-12 linebackers and Bielema's roster will carry 7-8 - I feel like they have the linebackers they need for this season and next. And they pair quite nicely:
The Starters: Calvin Hart and Tarique Barnes
The Former Walkons: Isaac Darkangelo and Ryan Meed
The Class Of 2021 Guys: Dylan Rosiek and Kenenna Odeluga
The Class Of 2022 Guys: Malachi Hood and James Kreutz
The only senior in that group is Darkangelo. So I could see them only bringing in one inside linebacker in the 2021 class. Hart and Barnes are both juniors, they like both Rosiek and Odeluga, and this year they'll see what they have in Hood and Kreutz and decide what they want to do in the future from there.
So that's probably best describes the outlook for Malachi Hood this year. Doubtful he would break into the rotation. So learn the position, hit the weight room, and provide some solid scout team snaps.