UNCs Hood has change of heart, will enter NFL draft after all

The star running back, who led the team in rushing sat out the Tar Heels loss to Stanford in the Sun Bowl last month with an undisclosed medical issue

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
North Carolina running back Elijah Hood (34) is tackled by N.C. State cornerback Jack Tocho (29) during the first half of the college rivalry game at Kenan Stadium Friday

Two weeks after announcing his intention to return to North Carolina for his senior season, running back Elijah Hood has had a change of heart. The Tar Heels star announced Friday that he will now forgo his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft this spring. “This was a difficult decision, but after gathering more information and talking with my family, I believe it is in my best interest to declare for the NFL Draft and pursue my dream of being a professional football player,” Hood said in a statement. “While I’ll miss playing with my teammates in Chapel Hill, I’m excited about my future opportunity. “I would like to thank coach (Larry) Fedora, the coaching staff and all Carolina fans for understanding how difficult it was to come to this decision. This program is on the rise because of the great people at UNC. I’m going to continue to pursue my degree from UNC and I’m proud to say I will always be a Tar Heel.” Hood, a first-team All-ACC selection as a sophomore in 2015, had something of a disappointing season this year. He still led the team in rushing and in rushing touchdowns, but because of a concussion that forced him to miss one game, other nagging injuries that slowed him in others and a decrease in carries, he was limited to 858 yards and eight touchdowns. The 6-foot-0, 200-pound Charlotte native sat out UNC’s loss to Stanford in the Sun Bowl last month ith an undisclosed medical issue. He finishes his college career with 2,580 rushing yards, which ranks sixth on the Tar Heels’ all-time list, and 29 touchdowns. “Elijah is a special individual who meant so much to this program during his time in Chapel Hill,” Fedora said. “He is an excellent student, a standout football player and a first-class person who made the most of his opportunity at Carolina. We support his decision to further his career at the next level and wish him the best as he pursues his dream to play in the NFL. He helped change the culture in our football program and it was an honor to coach him for three seasons.”