KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Tennessee has signed a prep football star who at the age of 13 was found by a juvenile court to have helped rape a relative.
Daniel Hood, a 19-year-old defensive end/tight end at Knoxville Catholic, signed a scholarship offer on Tuesday and will join coach Lane Kiffin's first recruiting class in the fall.
``We didn't go about this lightly,'' Kiffin said in a statement. ``We spent a lot of time researching the issue and talking to a lot of people who are well respected in the community. Everyone spoke very highly of Daniel. He's a very bright young man who wants to move past this incident and be a good representative for the team, the university and the community.''
Tennessee received a letter of support for Hood from the victim.
``He is becoming a very mature adult and will be a great asset to any college and to society as a whole,'' the letter read.
ews Sentinel, which first reported the story, that he's tried to learn from the crime.
``I had a good friend tell me I should go as far west as possible,'' Hood told the newspaper. ``But I don't think that it's a situation that I should try to avoid. It was heinous. It was awful. Any bad thing you could say about it would probably fit it. But I think it's not trying to put it in a corner and forget it ever happened. I think you have to take it and learn from it and grow from it. ... I've got a debt to (the victim) that I can never repay, just trying to throw it away like it never happened would be the worst thing I could do for her.''
Knoxville Catholic principal Dickie Sompayrak did not return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.
According to court records, Hood and another teenager were charged in 2003 with assaulting a 14-year-old girl. The victim's legs and wrists were tied and her eyes and mouth were covered with duct tape before she was raped at the Sullivan County home of Hood's father.
Robert Sanico, then 17, pleaded guilty in adult court to charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape and is serving a 10-year prison sentence.
Hood's case went through juvenile court, where he was found delinquent and ordered into a rehabilitation program at the Mountain View Youth Development Center in Dandridge. While in state custody, he enrolled at Knoxville Catholic High School.
As a football player there, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Hood was named helped the team win its first state championship and was named the 2008 Class 3A Mr. Football.
``Daniel made a terrible mistake a number of years ago and was involved in a very bad thing,'' Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said in a statement. ``He's very remorseful and has worked hard to turn his life around. Catholic High gave him a second chance, and he lived up to expectations. We feel like he has earned the chance to continue that.''
Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer was regularly criticized for the Volunteers' string of discipline problems in recent years, which ranged from charges of underage drinking to assault and rape.
Tennessee spokeswoman Tiffany Carpenter said Kiffin began considering Hood soon after he was hired in December and Hood met with Kiffin, Hamilton, Tennessee Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Tim Rogers and other school officials.
``Nobody had anything bad to say about him,'' Carpenter said. ``Everybody talked about how good of a kid he was. Everybody had a say. If anybody had been uncomfortable, we wouldn't have done it.''

NCAAF Headlines

More inNCAAF News  

NCAAF Top Stories

Thumbnail Houston vs. SMU Pick Is the over a good bet to cash on Saturday night when SMU hosts Houston at 7:00PM ET?
Thumbnail EMU vs. WMU Pick Should No. 20 Western Michigan have any trouble slowing down rival Eastern Michigan when they meet up on Saturday at 3:30PM...
Thumbnail Oregon State vs. Washington Pick Despite Washington’s scoring ability, will the Huskies’ game on Saturday evening versus Oregon State fall under the total?
Thumbnail Troy vs. South Alabama Prediction Will the Troy Trojans find themselves being challenged by South Alabama when they meet up tonight at...
Thumbnail Miami vs. Virginia Tech Prediction Will Virginia Tech cover the number tonight as a home favorite versus Miami at 7:00PM ET?
More inNCAAF Articles  

NCAAF Team Pages