Arizona State sophomore nose tackle Jaxon Hood is nearing 100 percent health, and is anxious to return to the trenches to take a full amount of reps Saturday against the Washington Huskies.
"I was rehabbing about four times a day for three weeks straight...it was good to finally take off that green jersey and get some reps against Colorado."
He hopes those reps are helping him prepare to stop Washington's powerful running attack.
ASU's coaching staff told him he has the potential to be an elite run-stopper following his freshman year, and Hood took that to heart.
"I worked the hardest in the off-season on stopping the run and taking double teams," he said.
Saturday will be a day of judgment in assessing how much his hard work has paid off. Stopping Bishop Sankey, the nation's second-leading rusher, is as authentic a measuring stick as he'll find for the rest of the season. Hood's fully aware of the challenge ahead.
"When they play to their potential, they're (Washington) the best team in the (Pac-12) North, in my honest opinion."
Coach Todd Graham has similar sentiments for the Huskies, praising their athleticism and overall talent that will be the toughest they face until the postseason.
He's happy to have one of his best plugs back to take some pressure away from Will Sutton and rest of the D-line.
"It really hurt us a lot more than what I was anticipating it would losing him. He's vital to what we're doing, and he's just scratching the surface at how good he's going to be."
Hood is confident he'll rise to the occasion, and is zoned in on showcasing his strengths.
"I'm fired up to be back doing what my little short self does best...taking on that double team."
Hood joked that being injured had a bit of a silver lining.
"That's how you meet some girls, limping around and carrying your backpack."