UNC TE Eric Ebron opens scouts' eyes with record night
Some three dozen NFL scouts were on hand at Kenan Stadium Thursday night with five general managers requesting credentials to watch North Carolina and Miami.
It’s a safe bet they left town with the name of the player wearing No. 85 in UNC’s unique black uniforms all over their reports.
Eric Ebron, UNC’s junior tight end, turned in a record-breaking performance that will make the odds long that he’ll return for his senior season in 2014.
Ebron used a career-best eight catches to gain 199 yards, breaking a 45-year-old school record for the most receiving yards by a tight end.
“He made some catches that not many other people are going to make,” Fedora said.
Ebron nearly helped the Tar Heels turn their season around against No. 10 Miami. His play helped UNC grab a 10-point fourth quarter lead before the Hurricanes rallied for a 27-23 win.
That left Ebron feeling somewhat empty.
“I feel like I played one of the best games a tight end has ever played," Ebron said. "But for my family, for my teammates, I still feel like I could have done something else to not let them down."
His importance to the UNC offense was evident on the Tar Heels’ first possession when he was the target on quarterback Bryn Renner’s first completed pass of the night, which went for a gain of six yards.
With Miami leading 3-0 in the first quarter, Ebron put the Tar Heels ahead with one of the game’s biggest plays.
From the UNC 29, Ebron caught a Marquise Williams pass at the UNC 42, eluded two Miami defenders six yards up field and outran the Hurricanes defense for a 71-yard touchdown.
In the first half alone, Ebron had six catches for 144 yards. According to ESPN’s research, that was the most yardage gained by a tight end in the first half of a college game this season.
“He’s essential," Renner said. "He is one of the best tight ends in the country, if not the best. He is critical for us passing the ball.”
In the second quarter, after Miami had taken a 13-7 lead by returning a blocked field goal for a touchdown, Ebron helped bring the Tar Heels back. His 31-yard reception of a Renner pass on third-and-6 moved UNC to the Miami 20.
Two plays later, Renner tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Quinshad Davis and UNC took a 14-13 lead.
Ebron caught a 12-yard pass from Williams on UNC’s next possession, which ended with Thomas Moore’s 25-yard field goal that put the Tar Heels up 17-13.
The Greensboro native started the second half with a slick one-handed catch off a Renner pass, gaining 23 yards and moving the Tar Heels in to Miami territory. That yardage vaulted him past Tony Blanchard in the UNC record book. Blanchard previously held the school record for receiving yards by a tight end with 149 against Wake Forest in 1968.
A preseason all-ACC pick, Ebron entered the game averaging 66 receiving yards per game. His previous best game this season came at Georgia Tech, where he caught six passes for 108 yards Last season, as a sophomore, Ebron established school records for a tight end with 40 catches for 625 yards. He was named second-team, all-ACC by the league’s coaches and media.
After Thursday night’s performance, on national television with a plethora of NFL talent evaluators watching him in person, Ebron’s reputation as a top offensive playmaker is established.