Well this is at last mildly surprising, given what happened last month.
In announcing in late December that Elijah Hood would be skipping the Sun Bowl for medical reasons, North Carolina intimated that the junior running back would be returning for his senior season. Just a little over two weeks later, the Tar Heels announced that Hood would indeed be leaving Chapel Hill for the April NFL draft.
Hood said in a statement that he came to the decision after gathering more information the last couple of weeks.
“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,” said Hood. “While I’ll miss playing with my teammates in Chapel Hill, I’m excited about my future opportunity. I would like to thank Coach 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 rushed for 2,580 yards in his UNC career, which ranks ninth on the school’s all-time list. His best season came in 2015, when he rushed for 1,463 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to first-team All-Acc honors.
He was named third-team all-conference this season, one littered with lingering issues, after rushing for a team-high 858 yards and eight touchdowns.
“Elijah is a special individual who meant so much to this program during his time in Chapel Hill,” said head coach Larry Fedora. “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.”
Hood might not be the only backfield loss for Fedora as starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky is strongly leaning toward leaving for the NFL. Trubisky, and other draft-eligible players, have until Jan. 16 to declare their intentions.