"This was a difficult decision," Hood said, "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."
Last month, the school announced Hood, the team's leading rusher, would miss the Sun Bowl but intended to return to school for the 2017 season.
Hood ran for 858 yards this season while battling injuries. In three seasons at UNC, Hood ran for 2,580 yards, the sixth-most in school history, and 29 touchdowns.
North Carolina is still awaiting a decision from starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky on whether he, too, will follow Hood to the NFL. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. projects Trubisky as the top quarterback in this year's draft.