North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said that UNC junior Eric Ebron could be the best tight end in college football this year. At the very least, he is the preseason pick as the best tight end in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Ebron was one of four Tar Heels who made the 2013 Preseason All-ACC Football Team, which was announced by the league Wednesday. He was joined by three senior teammates — left tackle James Hurst, defensive end Kareem Martin and safety Trê Boston.
A Greensboro native, Ebron had 40 catches for 625 yards last season — both marks were school single-season records for a tight end — and scored four touchdowns.
“I think what we do offensively really takes advantage of big guys that are athletic like that,” Fedora said at Monday’s ACC Football Kickoff, where the preseason all-ACC voting was conducted by media members. “We’re going to get the ball in his hands and let him play.”
UNC’s four selections were the second most in the league behind Florida State, which had six.
Duke landed two players on the preseason all-ACC team in punter Will Monday and cornerback Ross Cockrell.
Both were first-team all-ACC picks last season when the Blue Devils went 6-7 and played in the Belk Bowl, the program’s most wins and first bowl appearance since the 1994 season.
UNC received four selections despite being picked to finish third in the Coastal Division by the media behind Miami and Virginia Tech, which had a combined three players honored.
Martin, a third-year starter, made the all-ACC second team last season after tying for second in the ACC in tackles for loss per game (1.29) and adding four sacks.
Boston led the team in tackles with 86, including 49 solo, and added six pass break-ups. He also shared the team lead with four interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown against Virginia.
Hurst earned first-team all-ACC honors from the league’s head coaches after the offensive line allowed just 11 total sacks on the year while helping the team set school records for total offense, scoring and passing yards. His 37 votes were the most of any offensive lineman.
Cockrell, a senior, enters his final season with Duke as the ACC’s active leader in interceptions with nine. In 36 career starts over the last three seasons, the Waxhaw native has 187 tackles and 29 pass breakups.
Last season, he picked off five passes. Cockrell led all ACC cornerbacks in voting for this year’s preseason all-ACC team.
Monday, a sophomore, became the ACC’s top punter in his first collegiate season last year. The 6-4 Monday averaged 44.6 yards per punt on 67 attempts. He landed 19 punts inside the opponent’s 20 while recording only six touchbacks as he was named a freshman all-American.
He led the ACC with 20 punts covering 50 yards or more, including a 79-yard punt in the Belk Bowl.
Tahj Boyd, the 2013 ACC Preseason Player of the Year, is one of three players from ACC preseason favorite Clemson on the 25-member all-ACC squad.
Miami and Wake Forest had two selections apiece, while Boston College, Georgia Tech Maryland, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Virginia Tech each placed one player on the team.
N.C. State and Syracuse were not represented.