Elijah Hood changes mind, leaves UNC for 2017 NFL Draft

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Junior running back Elijah Hood has declared for the 2017 NFL Draft. The Charlotte native initially decided to return to North Carolina for his senior season.

Elijah Hood is leaving, after all.

The junior running back has declared for the 2017 NFL Draft, two weeks after stating his intent to return to North Carolina for his senior season.

"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. “While I’ll miss playing with my teammates in Chapel Hill, I’m excited about my future opportunity."

Hood sat out the Sun Bowl on Dec. 30 with medical issues, as the Tar Heels (8-5, 5-3 ACC) rushed for 118 yards in their 25-23 loss to No. 18 Stanford.

Hood finished the 2016 season with a team-high 858 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, earning third-team All-ACC honors. As a sophomore, Hood rushed for 1,463 yards — the second-best single-season mark in UNC history — and added 17 touchdowns to claim a spot on the All-ACC first team.

The Charlotte native was the top running back in the state of North Carolina as a high school prospect in 2013. After initially committing to Notre Dame, the four-star running back flipped his commitment to UNC nearly four months later.

“Elijah is a special individual who meant so much to this program during his time in Chapel Hill,” head coach Larry 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."

Hood finishes his North Carolina career ranked ninth in rushing yards (2,580) and sixth in rushing touchdowns (29) through three seasons.

Hood's decision leaves first-year Jordon Brown as the only UNC running back with collegiate experience. After sitting out the first five games, the former three-star recruit from Durham finished the season with 20 carries for 45 yards — including a five-yard touchdown run in his third and final carry of the Sun Bowl.

Hood joins defensive tackle Naz Jones — who declared on Dec. 9 — as notable Tar Heels to forgo their final year of eligibility and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

@CJacksonCowart

sports@dailytarheel.com

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