UNC tight end Eric Ebron to enter NFL draft

lkeeley@newsobserver.comNovember 25, 2013 

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UNC's Eric Ebron (85) and his teammates celebrate the Tar Heels' 27-19 victory over N.C. State on Saturday November 2, 2013 at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C.

ROBERT WILLETT — rwillett@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

CHAPEL HILL North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron will skip his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL draft, Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora announced Monday.

By making the announcement now, Ebron will be able to participate in Saturday’s senior day ceremony before UNC hosts No. 24 Duke.

“I’m excited for him and his future, and I think this was a good decision by him and his family,” Fedora said. “I fully support it. We’ll be sad to see him go but excited, also, for his future.”

Ebron leads the Tar Heels with 50 receptions for 774 yards and three touchdowns. His career day came on a Thursday night in front of a national audience against Miami, when he caught eight passes for 199 yards and a score, setting a record for a UNC tight end.

After that Oct.17 loss to the Hurricanes, Ebron’s teammates were expecting him to go pro sooner rather than later, he said.

“That’s when 95 percent of Carolina football knew,” Ebron said. “They’ve been raving about it more than me. I’m pretty sure they already knew it was going to happen and planned for it to happen.”

Ebron said he made his final decision Sunday night after sitting down with his mother, Gina, and Fedora. He made the decision now primarily for two reasons, he said: to relieve stress and so his mom could experience the senior day ceremony.

“My mom plays a role in every decision I make in life,” he said. “She’s the reason why I’m here, she’s the reason I decided to declare for the draft, she’s the reason that I play football, and she’s the reason that I was born.”

As for Fedora, Ebron said he considers their relationship more like father-son than coach-player. He didn’t ask him to stay, Ebron said, but told him he would support him in whatever decision he made.

“I’m pretty sure deep down inside his curls he wanted to say something about me sticking around, but he didn’t,” Ebron said. “I know that he has my back on whatever me and my mom decide.”

As for where he expects to be drafted, Ebron smiled and said, “hopefully very high.”

That should be the case, as he is ranked as the No.12 overall player on ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper’s Big Board. ESPN’s Todd McShay ranks him No.14 overall, and both have him listed as the top tight end in the draft.

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