UNC will say goodbye to Tight End Eric Ebron after their bowl game on Saturday. It will be a sad day for Tar Heel nation as the 6’4’’ 225 pound NC native will leave a legacy of being both consistent target and a dual threat behind. He has had two head coaches, two quarterbacks, and been a leader both on and off the field during a bowl-ineligible season. Eric Ebron’s departure will give impact to the saying “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” for all UNC fans. Eric, Tar Heel nation salutes you.
Ebron has 55 receptions for 895 yards and 3 touchdowns so far throughout this year, with a career reception tally of 105 catches for 1,727 yards and 8 touchdowns. It’s important to put this man’s numbers into perspective. How about this? It means he’s been so productive in this six-loss, two-quarterback season alone that, with a whole game left to be played, he’s received more than 50% of his career totals. Oh, and he spends a good chunk of his time either run blocking or pass blocking, unlike other wide-outs. This makes these numbers extra head-shaking.
Did I mention that in this season alone, he’s absolutely dominated in nearly every game UNC has come up short in? Did I mention that all of his touchdowns came in losing efforts? Look it up, it’s true.
He had 6 receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown against Georgia Tech (loss). He had 8 receptions for 199 yards and a touchdown against Miami (loss). He had 6 receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown against Virginia Tech (loss). He also played lights out for 5 receptions and 121 yards in a game against Duke (loss).
So what does that mean? Does it mean that his stats don’t matter because UNC came up short anyways? Does that mean he shies away from the bright lights of a big stage?
Actually, it means the opposite. It means that when the Tar Heels are backed up against the ropes, they look for Mr. Reliable. They look for Eric Ebron. UNC should have been blown out in a number of these games, let’s be honest. There were some ugly ones. Ebron was the glue that kept this team in the ball game a lot of times.
The real important players on the field aren’t the ones who catch four touchdowns in a 60-point win over William and Mary, the second game of the season. The real important players are the ones that rise to the occasion when their teams need them. Eric Ebron has always been there for Chapel Hill.
And let’s talk about the situation he found himself in. He came in under Butch Davis. Davis left. He then had Coach Larry Fedora and had an outstanding season. They won the division. Only problem was, it didn’t really count. They should have gone to a bowl but couldn’t because they were bowl ineligible. Eric Ebron didn’t say a thing. He didn’t complain or talk to the media. He just showed up this season and rose to the occasion in big games. Bryn Renner was injured and Ebron suddenly found himself playing for an underclassman quarterback.
Eric Ebron has been a quiet leader off the field and in the locker room for the Tar Heels over a tough three seasons. Had he not been there, it would have been a lot uglier. But true leaders don’t call attention to themselves—they just lead by example. He’s done that. Maybe that’s why he’s a finalist for the John Mackey Award for outstanding tight end.
Eric Ebron, Tar Heel nation salutes you.