Eric Ebron Journal: Sticking Together

Eric Ebron, a Tar Heel tight end signee from Greensboro (N.C.) Smith, is filing weekly journal entries at Inside Carolina as he counts down to enrolling at UNC.

  Entry #13: The Investigation

At one of my practices I heard "UNC is going under investigation." I was thinking 'Why, we haven't done anything?' I was immediately on UNC's side – I have their back 100 percent. But it shocked me to the point where I lost focus on things that I should have been focusing on.

When I started to hear more and more about it, it made me think. My mom and I sat down and we started talking and we had my dad on the phone. Basically, the question was, 'What are we going to do if we find out the NCAA is taking away bowl games or scholarships, because that's going to hurt the program?' My mom said, "I don't know. I say you go to NC State if that happens." I said, "NC State?! What about Miami?" We were bringing up other schools and talking about scenarios and out of the blue I said, "I don't care what happens. That's messed up if I'm committed for so long and I just take back my commitment." So we decided to ride it out with UNC no matter what.

At first, I didn't sweat it. But once the NCAA really got on the case and the media really talked about it, I called Coach Mo' and said "Okay, break down to me what's going to happen so I know." He said, "We got into some trouble, because some kids did this, but I really can't go into detail. But just know, everything is going to be okay and we're going to get out of this thing." I said, "Okay Coach Mo', I'm taking your word for it." Sure enough, everything smoothed out.

I always say everything happens for a reason. With this, it helped me mature more as a person and it helped me better myself to prepare for the unexpected. It helped the school, because now it's more prepared to handle situations with agents and tutors so that I won't have to worry about falling into a similar situation.

The worst thing about it was people rubbing it in your face. I think I got that the worst during the Shrine Bowl week from the South Carolina fans, because South Carolina wanted me so bad – they were just begging me: "Come take an official visit, come take an official visit." When their fans saw me they were like, "Haha, how's the investigation going?" They'd say, "Let me know how it goes when you guys get the death sentence." I just said, "Ya'll are some true haters. Don't worry 2013 will be here sooner than you know it."

I talked to Everett Golson that week. He said, "Man, I got confused." I said, "But bro, it's going to be over." I was trying to convince him to come back, but that wasn't happening because he was settled with where he wanted to go.

I didn't really get the teasing at school, because most of the teachers at my school graduated from Carolina. They just said, "Hang in there. Hang in there." They knew my next step after Carolina was to stay close to home and probably NC State. So they said: "Don't go there."

The investigation helped us commitments out, because we stuck together. Everybody that had committed – T.J. Thorpe, Travis Riley, Marquise Williams, Shawn Underwood, Brandon Ellerbe – we bonded together more and felt, "This junk is going to blow over." I remember talking to Kiaro Holts and I asked him what he thought and he said, "Man, I'm not going anywhere." It made our class stronger. We all connected and we all bonded. Most of us played together in the Shrine Bowl and we had immediate chemistry.

I know that the NCAA hasn't officially ruled yet, but I don't worry about it. I already signed my paper, I already have my tattoo, and I already have my head ready to play Carolina football for four years.


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