Elijah Hood, the North Carolina junior running back, has played for the final time this season – but he has not played his final college game. Hood will miss the Sun Bowl on Dec. 30 due to medical reasons, the school announced on Thursday, but he will return to UNC for his senior season.
That’s good news for the Tar Heels in the long term but, nonetheless, they’ll miss Hood against Stanford in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. Both teams will now be without their starting running backs. Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey announced earlier in the week that he wouldn’t play in the game, instead choosing to focus on preparing for the NFL draft.
Hood ends his junior season with 864 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. He averaged 5.92 yards per carry. While playing through various ailments – most of which Hood and UNC have not disclosed – Hood’s production decreased from last season, when he ran for 1,463 yards and 17 touchdowns. Hood averaged about two fewer carries per game this season.
“I’m disappointed I cannot be with my football brothers for the bowl game in Texas, but it’s best for me to stay home and fully recover,” Hood said in a statement. “I look forward to returning to the field in 2017 for my senior year and having the opportunity to represent UNC along with my teammates.
“I appreciate Coach (Larry) Fedora and the staff for helping me make the best decision for my future.”
Without Hood, UNC in the Sun Bowl will be most reliant on senior running back T.J. Logan. During the regular season he gained 578 yards rushing, averaged 5.7 yards per carry and ran for seven touchdowns.