Kentucky’s new leader of the outside linebackers and special teams is excited to be back in the Bluegrass.
Dean Hood almost made the move a year sooner. After he was dismissed as EKU’s head coach following the 2015 season, he was quickly hired by a former colleague at Charlotte. Mark Stoops tried to convince Hood to join him at UK, but their timing was off .
“The first time (in 2016) was really difficult. I wanted to come obviously,” Hood told Dick Gabriel tonight on the Big Blue Insider. After spending spring practice in Charlotte, Hood couldn’t leave his players after just a few months. “I think the Lord had a plan for us to get out of Kentucky for a while. It was good for my wife and I to get out a little bit.”
This time around, “The timing was great.”
Hood was humbled to receive the call from Stoops after he turned him away just a year ago. It didn’t take long for Stoops to close the deal. “It’s obvious to see why the recruiting is getting better and better and better. He’s very convincing,” he said with a chuckle.
Hood, a native of Northeast Ohio, knew Stoops from afar, but the two did not form a personal relationship until they were forced to deal with a difficult situation. After a bar and dorm fight between their players, Stoops immediately addressed the situation with Hood. Hood respected Stoops for the way he handled the altercation. That respect grew after one of Hood’s players, Joey Kraemer, tragically passed away just before the game against UK.
“It just touched my heart,” Hood said.
Moving forward, Hood believes Kentucky is in the perfect position to reach unfamiliar territory in the SEC. Amazed by the new facilities and the exceptional recruiting in his home state, Hood believes they have the pieces to shock SEC football fans. Hood has experienced it before. The season before he became Wake Forest’s defensive coordinator, the Demon Deacons were 2-9. Five years later they won the ACC to earn a trip to the Orange Bowl.
“If you do things strategically, if you do things right, if you can be blessed in a few certain areas and get a few great players, it can happen. And it can happen here at Kentucky.”