Every time I read about
Hood is an offensive lineman from Knoxville (Tenn.) Catholic High who signed a letter of intent earlier this week to play football at Tennessee. He will be on scholarship in the fall. Five years ago, Hood was convicted of kidnapping and aggravated rape. According to
Ramos, meanwhile, is a hard-hitting safety from Ventura, Calif., with a clean record who wanted nothing more than to earn a football scholarship so he could ease the burden on his mother. She works three jobs so three of her boys can attend college and eventually live an easier life than hers. Ramos, the leader of a state championship defense at St. Bonaventure High as a junior, thought he had that scholarship last summer when an Oregon coach sent him a written offer. Days after Ramos accepted, he was told there was a mix-up. The Ducks had offered too many players at his position.
So Hood gets a big-time, BCS-level scholarship and Ramos -- who
Should Tennessee have recruited Ramos instead of Hood? Not necessarily. Maybe Ramos didn't fit the Volunteers' needs. Maybe he wasn't good enough to play in the SEC. But certainly there was another quick, 6-foot-5, 255-pound lineman who signed with a non-BCS school who played by society's rules without fail. That player should have gotten Hood's scholarship. Or maybe there was a walk-on already on Tennessee's roster who sets a perfect example on the practice field and in the classroom. That player should have gotten Hood's scholarship.
That doesn't mean Hood, now 19, should have been prevented from playing football at Tennessee. "I don't deserve a second chance," Hood told Knoxville radio host Hallerin
Instead of a scholarship, Tennessee coach
Besides, it wasn't as if Tennessee's rivals were clamoring to sign Hood. After the 21-page appeals court ruling found its way onto the Internet a few months ago, Hood's offers -- of which there were many -- evaporated.
After research that included interviews with judges and attorneys, Hood passed muster with Tennessee athletic director
Since his arrest six years ago, Hood has done and said everything possible to redeem himself. He has fantastic grades, a high SAT score, and the people who know him best speak about him in glowing terms. But he didn't steal a pack of gum or roll through a stop sign. Even at 13, he should have known right from wrong well enough to fight or to alert his father, who, according to court documents, was in the house at the time.
But he didn't. He got scared, and he froze. Judging by his public comments, he still hasn't forgiven himself.
Considering the severity of the crime, Hood got off light. He was turned over to Tennessee's juvenile justice system. He was later admitted to Knoxville Catholic, where he was a star on the football field and in the classroom.
Hood knows he'll face a zero-tolerance policy on campus. "If I jaywalk," he told Volquest.com, "I will make the front page." That isn't necessarily fair, either. Hood should be treated just like any other Tennessee student.
In fact, he should be just another Tennessee student -- and not one of the 85 who enjoy the privilege of a football scholarship.