Hood takes over football head coach position

Hood instructing his players as a head coach at Tift County High School. Hood coached for seven years in Arkansas before moving to Georgia. This was Hoods first coaching job in Georgia.
Hood instructing his players as a head coach at Tift County High School. Hood coached for seven years in Arkansas before moving to Georgia. This was Hoods first coaching job in Georgia.
Courtesy of Leroy Hood

After finishing 5-5 in the 2023 season, Midtown has hired seasoned head coach Leroy Hood to revive the Midtown football team. 

Born and raised in McGehee, Arkansas, Hood attended McGehee High School and played all four years for the Owls’ football team. Hood signed to play Division 1 football with the University of Arkansas in 2000 after helping the Owls win back-to-back state championships in 1998 and 1999. 

“[Football] is a large part of my family tradition, just sports in general,” Hood said. “Football happened to be one of the sports that we all excelled at. So, it’s kind of carried me throughout my childhood up until middle school, high school and all throughout college.”

Hood was one of Arkansas’s fourth-most recruited players during the spring of 2000. He was named MVP of the Owl’s 1999 state championship game.

“It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” Hood said. “My sophomore year we lost by one point in the state championship. So, I made up my mind that for the next two years we were going to put in the work to win one. So, winning it and being able to be the MVP and actually win the state championship after losing my sophomore year, it was a great feeling, and it just carried on the tradition of my school and family.”

Hood played for the Razorbacks in the 2000 season, but was forced to redshirt his freshman year due to an injury. 

“It was a little disappointing, as far as playing time,” Hood said. “Freshmen rarely come in and start, let alone get a little bit of playing time, but either way, that experience was good.”

After completing one season with the Razorbacks, Hood made the decision to transfer to Arkansas Tech University. Despite the transfer, Hood values the knowledge he gained from the experience.

“It was huge. Being from the south, [southerners] value [the SEC],” Hood said. “Being in the SEC, being a part of that culture and just the support and the amount of detail that goes into it, has paid dividends for me in getting that experience.”

Part of Hood’s decision to transfer stemmed from a former NCAA regulation stipulating that transferring from one Division I school to another mandated a one-year hiatus from competition.

“It’s different compared to now, because back then, if you transferred to another school in your division you had to sit out a year,” Hood said. “Now, kids can just jump in the transfer portal and go to another SEC or Division 1 school. When I was transferring, you either had to sit out or drop down a division. So I dropped down to a smaller school.”

At Arkansas Tech University, Hood started 43 consecutive games for the Wonder Boys.

“It was a good experience for me,” Hood said. “I was all conference for two years and got to have a really good experience and actually got to start every season at Arkansas Tech, too.”

Following his time at Arkansas Tech, Hood got an opportunity with the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL. After a training camp with the Chiefs, Hood decided to play internationally with the Porvoo Butchers in the SCJL, the American Football Association of Finland, where he won a championship and was named MVP during his career. 

“It was a great experience,” Hood said. “Outside of football, just being in another country, you know, in Scandinavia, I got to experience a lot of different things within that culture that I have come to appreciate now.”

Hood instructing a player as head coach at Pebblebrooke High School. Hood was awarded 2021 Cobb County Coach of the Year, 2021 Parker Resources Coach of the Week and 2021 Atlanta Falcons Coach of the Week during his time at Pebblebrooke. (Courtesy of Leroy Hood)
Hood evolves from standout player to strategic leader

Subsequent to a year overseas, Hood opted to leverage his communications degree to pursue a career in coaching.

“Being that football was a large part of my life, I decided to go the non-traditional route, get my teaching certification, and I have been coaching ever since,” Hood said.

As a coach, Hood has an extensive background. He has been coaching football for the past 15 years, with the last seven as a head coach. His coaching journey started in Arkansas, where he began as a defensive back coach at Salem High School.

“I started my coaching career in 2009 and was fortunate enough to win the state championship as a first-year coach,” Hood said. 

Hood coached in Arkansas for seven years before moving to south Georgia and coaching at Tift County High School.

“I actually got a phone call from a coach at Tift County,” Hood said. “He was moving to become a college coach and asked me if I’d be interested to replace him, and the rest is history.”

Through his role as a coach, Hood has helped many of his athletes reach the collegiate level. University of South Carolina freshman wide receiver and former player of Hood’s, Craig Adams, credits Hood for helping him become a collegiate football player.

“He helped me make it to the collegiate level by helping me understand the game as a freshman,” Adams said. “I played QB all the way until my junior year and that’s the year that made me a college football player. Coach Hood understood my potential was bigger than being a QB, and he pushed me everyday from working out in the summer to spring. He helped me understand work ethic.” 

Adams played under Hood at Pebblebrook High School, where Hood was awarded 2021 Cobb County Coach of the Year, 2021 Parker Resources Coach of the Week and 2021 Atlanta Falcons Coach of the Week. Hood has coached 42 student-athletes to football scholarships. 

“I enjoyed every moment me and Hood had after the games, during the games, the competition at practice, and our visits,” Adams said. “Hood was a father figure to not only me, but to the rest of my teammates. He understood everyone’s situation and tried to make everyone better as men and football players than they were before we met him. I appreciate him for not letting me quit football and for also making my experience of high school better. He guided me through situations and also gave me advice when I needed it.”

Hood is excited to join the Midtown football team and believes he can foster success here.

“I knew a little bit about the history of [Midtown] before the name change, and I didn’t see why it wouldn’t be possible for the football team to reach the heights that everything else is doing at Midtown, especially with the other sports doing so well, and to say, ‘why not football?’” Hood said. “If you have the right support, which they do have, and the right coach, I feel like we can thrive.”

Athletic Director Blair Barksdale played a big role in the hiring of Hood as the head football coach.

“As the Athletic Director, my role is to bring in head coaches that will help take Midtown to the next level,” Barksdale said. “So, for football, we obviously had an application process, and then myself and Dr. Bockman (Principal Dr. Betsy Bockman) reviewed all the applications, and pulled the ones we wanted to go through the interview process, and that was round one. Then we had a second round of interviews and did our background research, and coach Hood was the best candidate for the job.”

Barksdale said Hood’s experience as a head coach, along with his ability to connect with students, made him a quality candidate.

“One thing we were looking for was head coach experience, and [Hood] had a lot of accolades as a head coach,” Barksdale said. “But his relationship building made him stand out. We had students on the interview panels in both interviews, and the way he interacted with the students, that just really stuck with us.”

Hood values the relationships he has built with his players, and said that his greatest achievements as a coach have been helping his players.

“The past 15 years, everywhere I’ve been, I still have players and former students that look up to me as more than just a coach,” Hood said. “They look at me as a mentor. So, that’s the most rewarding part of just being a coach. It’s just those relationships and those bonds that you have with the players.”

Barksdale believes Hood’s playing history and connections are going to help the team develop, and help the athletes get to the next level.

“Since he has come and started this semester, we have already had, on average, a college coach in here a day, just from his contacts and playing in those arenas,” Barksdale said. “And that was a huge thing, as well, you know, we listened to the players and parents and just having somebody that has those connections I think is really going to help our football players get to the next level.”

Hood believes his background is going to help him connect with the students interested in playing football next year.

“A lot of time when you go into a room, if you don’t have much experience, it’s instant. They want to see what you’ve done before and then they’ll start listening,” Hood said. “With my resume as a player and as a coach, I walk through the door and immediately require attention. So, that’s the first thing, just getting the buy-in. Once guys buy-in, the rest will take care of itself.”

Hood has big aspirations for the football team, and plans to carry them out this upcoming season.

“It’s a game by game approach, and that starts with spring practice, summer workouts, all leading into the fall season,” Hood said. “But I definitely want to start out by just having a winning record, and outside of the winning record, making the playoffs. Hopefully, once we make the playoffs, we can go ahead and get the football program established in the meantime.”

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Ellie Palaian
Ellie Palaian, Sports Managing Editor
Ellie Palaian is a senior and this is her third year on staff for The Southerner. She plays varsity soccer for Midtown High and is excited to write for the paper this year.

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