By LARRY VAUGHT
Dean Hood has had a couple of really good weeks.
Obviously, the former Eastern Kentucky University head coach who is now the special teams/linebackers coach at Kentucky is glad UK is off to a 2-0 start after a win over EKU Saturday. Many of the players playing for Eastern were recruited by Hood and were on the team that took UK to overtime two years ago before losing in Hood’s final season at Eastern Kentucky.
“I didn’t think about it much until the end of the game. I got to see those kids I recruited two years older, bigger, stronger, more mature and all that stuff. It was short after the game seeing them but I got to ask a couple of kids how their parents were doing and that type of stuff,” said Hood, who was 55-38 as the head coach at Eastern Kentucky. “I was proud of them. They played well and I was proud of how hard they played.”
While playing against the team where he was the former head coach could have been emotional, Hood has had been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster since July 11 when his youngest son, Daven, was seriously burned in a brush fire.
“It was a bad deal. We just went into survival mode after it happened,” Hood said after Saturday’s win over Eastern. “Just grabbed him, put a sweatshirt around him and punched into the GPS (for a hospital) and went to the nearest hospital. I think it took us to some Jessamine County branch.
“They took one look at him and said he has to go to UK Children’s Hospital. They put us in an ambulance to UK and they took one look at him and said he has to go to Shriner’s in Cincinnati. Next thing you know we were there.”
The Shriners Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati has a special burn unit that 9-year-old Daven needed.
“They are unbelievable, the absolute best in the country,” the UK assistant coach said.
He started to heal and went home before a staph infection sent him back to the hospital for another week and then he had another week of rehab after that.
“He was weak and had lost a lot of weight,” Hood said. “But now he’s back in school. It has been a long road for him but he is a tough, little dude.”
Obviously Daven Hood is and going through experiences like that with his four children has changed Hood as a coach. He admits he coached “differently” before he became a father. He now looks at his players as “big” kids.
“I look at them the same way as I do my children and think how would I want them coached. You change your perspective when you become a dad,” he said.
A perfect example came late in Saturday’s win over Eastern Kentucky when linebacker Jordan Jones went down with an apparent shoulder injury.
“I was in a panic the same way as if it was my son, Trey, at Lexington Christian Academy going down,” Hood said. “There’s no question that has helped me as a coach.”
Hood is close with his players. That’s mainly why he did not tell them about what happened to his son at the time. He didn’t want to worry them.
“I don’t know how many of them know what was going on with him but he is doing good now. He will be coming around now that he’s back healthy,” the UK coach said. “He’s not been around much because he was in the hospital or had to stay at home, but he’s ready to rock-and-roll and be over here with these guys now.”
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