Kentucky college totally adds up for Hood's future
Four years of hard work came to fruition for Payton Hood on National Signing Day Wednesday when the Marshall County defensive lineman signed to play collegiate football with Kentucky Christian University at Grayson, Kentucky.
The Knights play at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) level and in the Mid-South Conference along with 12 other schools located across Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia split between two divisions (West and East).
Counting it up
"I chose Kentucky Christian because they have a great educational background and that's what I'm going to school for---to be a math teacher," Hood said. "They have a great math program, a great education program, and I just like the environment. It's beautiful up there, the campus is a nice place, and it's about the Lord. I just enjoy everything about it."
Hood was a vital cog on the highly regarded Marshall County defense that allowed just 18.3 points per game during the regular season and held its first three playoff opponents to a mere 27 total points.
"I directly coached Payton the past four years," Marshall County assistant coach Danny Pickle, Hood's position coach, said. "He comes in as a freshman already strong and already with ability. I just teach him what I know and he buys in.
I stress that to all my guys to buy into what I'm preaching because I'm probably not going to tell you anything wrong and we're going to get after it every day and we're going to practice hard that way the games are easy."
Pickle added, "That's what Peyton has bought into. He should be competing for a starting spot at the college level."
Hood finished the year on one of the finest Marshall County teams in school history which saw the Tigers go deep into the playoffs before coming up one game short of a state championship appearance.
"My success really came from my teammates putting me in the right position at the right time to make the plays," Hood said. "I'm going to work hard in the weight room and hopefully work to get a starting spot as a freshman."
Hood was named the Region 4-4A Defensive Player of the Year and to the Examiner Class 4A All-State Team after a season in which the defensive end finished with 80 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for losses 4.5 sacks, eight quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery.
Hood was also named All-District 12-AA First Team as a junior, finishing with 79 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
"I feel like Payton Hood is a steal of a football player," Marshall County coach Thomas Osteen said. "His ability is much higher than the level he is going to be playing at. He has some issues getting academically qualified and if he didn't have some of those issues on the front end I think he would be playing at a higher level today."
"But all things work out for a reason and he's got some people up there he feels comfortable with and I feel like will take care of him," Osteen continued. "It's one thing going to a college and kind of being an outlier, it's another when the coaches and staff you're going to is fully invested in you so they'll no doubt take care of you. I feel like Payton can be a three-or-four year starter at a place like Kentucky Christian."
The Knights went 2-9 (2-7) during the 2015 season, but started the year off against FCS opponents Duquesne University and Morehead State of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Kentucky Christian, located in the small northeast Kentucky town of Grayson (pop. 4105), started in 1919 has an enrollment of just 613 students. The football program is in its infancy having started just eight years ago in 2008.