By Sean Collins
Many times, student-athletes are judged critically if they switch schools on multiple occasions. That criticism might not be fair because the people who object are the same people who have changed jobs in search of the perfect place and situation. Often times, student-athletes are in search of that same thing at a university. After attending two previous universities, University of San Diego and Duke, Tevin Hood, found his home in Tucson at the University of Arizona.
Hood, a native of Chandler, Ariz., spent time away from the Grand Canyon State after graduating from Chandler High School. He returned to his home state and couldn’t be happier with his decision.
“Interacting with the coaching staff (when I visited) really made me feel like this place could be home,” Hood said. “They were really helpful with the transition process. I knew Coach (Charlie) Ragle from high school and I knew Marquis Flowers from high school, so it was a welcoming environment.”
Hood has established himself as a senior leader on the defense and has become a key element of the 3-3-5 defense. However, he came into the program with no expectations in mind and only one goal.
“I didn’t envision any of this for myself, I just wanted to play again,” Hood said. “I was just happy I was able to come here with the chance to play and, however it unfolded, it’s just a blessing I got to play. I’m definitely happy with how things have been going.”
As happy as Hood is to be here, the coaching staff is just as happy to have him. Assistant coach Bill Kirelawich, charged with mentoring the defensive line, feels he is a special person, on and off the field.
“He possesses all the qualities that a good nose guard needs to possess,” Kirelawich said. “He’s strong, he’s intelligent, he’s big, he’s intuitive, and he has a great feel for the position. He doesn’t let his intelligence get in the way of good common sense, and that’s a rare quality. Most guys that are as highly intelligent as he is stumble over that intelligence as opposed to learning how to use it effectively and also have some common sense. That’s what I like about him.”
The 2012 season was a struggle for the Arizona defense. However, the 2013 defense has greatly improved. With a year of experience under their belts in the 3-3-5 defense and a better of understanding of the scheme, the Wildcats have flourished, as well as Hood individually.
“It’s like seeing your hard work pay off,” Hood said. “All the hours we put in, all the schemes we put in, to do that in game action and be successful is a great feeling. We have a more confident defense this year and we have a better feel for it. We all settled into our positions in the 3-3-5 and, because of that, we are able to run the gambit as far as opening up the playbook and shutting down offenses.”
Hood’s leadership is something that can certainly be attributed to the Wildcats’ success on the defensive side of the ball this year. Kirelawich looks to Hood as an invaluable leader.
“He’s a leader, he’s a guy that doesn’t quit; I think he’s a natural,” Kirelawich said. “He can lead by example or he lead vocally. He’s not a cheerleader, he’s not a ‘ra-ra’ guy. He’s very subtle but he gets his point across. Everything he does, all the underclassmen, and even upperclassmen, can look at and emulate. If they aren’t looking at him, watching and trying to emulate him, they are making a great mistake or they don’t care that much about the game.”
Both Hood and Kirelawich feel that the defense has plenty of room for improvement. The pair seem to have a very similar mindset.
“Constant progress is key,” Hood said. “Watching film from every single game, we see things we can improve and I think we can keep getting better every day.”
“I think the defense has improved quite a bit,” Kirelawich said. “We have a long way to go, the season is not over. As a coach, you want to play your best game your last game. You want to continue to step up every week. I think we’re doing that. We’re getting a little bit better and a little bit better. We’re chipping away at it and starting to connect the dots. We’re not where we should be yet, by any stretch of the imagination, but we’re going in the right direction.”
Kirelawich and Hood have a very strong relationship and they both are very fond of each other. Hood knows that Kirelawich’s 40 years of coaching has helped him tremendously and will continue to guide him for the duration of his senior season.
“I feel lucky to have him as my coach,” Hood said. “He really knows his stuff and he’s been able to coach us up really well. I think he has developed me as a player better than anybody I’ve ever had as a coach. To have him in my corner, it’s almost like having a mob boss on my side.”
Hood has found a home with the Wildcats and the boss is certainly glad to have him.