"It was tough. I had to boil it down to make my decision. Obviously, North Carolina had pulled it out. This is where I want to go. I'm going to be following my dream. When I was a kid growing up, I always dreamed about going to North Carolina. Basketball didn't work out for me, so it's football. But I guess I have to follow my dream. I'm going to finish with a good education and play college football for the University of North Carolina.
"I feel good right now. I just accomplished something that many students around here couldn't do. And to me it's a blessing. I mean, it's a dream come true for me. It's there. This is what I've always wanted to do. This is where I've always wanted to go. I'm going to follow that blue."
When did you know it was going to be North Carolina?
"When I first woke up this morning. I rolled out of bed about 6:30. Something was like ‘Ethan you've got to go ahead.' To me, it felt good. So I said ‘I'm going to follow my dreams.' It happened to be North Carolina. So I'm going to follow my dreams."
What separated UNC from Clemson?
"There really wasn't anything. Last night, when I was riding home, it was right there – it was like 51-49. And then when I got home, it was 50-50 and I was like ‘Man, I don't know.' And then when I woke up this morning, I finally realized; I was like ‘This is where I want to go and I want to go to Chapel Hill.' So I pulled it out."
Did you have a hard time sleeping last night?
"I tossed and turned over in the bed several times. Man, it was tough. [I was] just dreaming about it. As I dreamed, it was like it is now: Carolina, Clemson, Carolina, Clemson. Like I said, when I woke up this morning, I went ahead and made my decision."
What position are you going to play – tight end or defensive tackle?
"Right now, they don't know where. From what I know right now, it's going to be tight end."
Do you have a position preference?
"Either or – I like both. It's where they see fit for me."
On being in the position to choose from two quality programs…
"Really, they're two good programs. They're known to be the best in the ACC. It just boiled down that it had to be North Carolina today. Butch Davis is a good coach and also Dabo Swinney is a good coach, too. So I just had to look at it both ways and like I said, I'm a Tar Heel."
How has the program here at South Columbus prepared you for the next level?
"It's been great. [I've been] working with Coach [Jake] Fonvielle ever since my ninth grade year. He has always pushed me. Former coach, Coach [Joey] Brice, he always pushed me, too. They encourage you to work hard in the weight room. And the winning tradition out here is good. Academics here are good. The whole coaching staff is great."
You've alluded for some time that UNC was your childhood favorite. What kept you waiting until today to make a decision?
"I just had to take my time. When you're getting recruited like this, you have to sit down and take your time. I had until this morning, so I took my time and I thought about it. I had that decision today."
Was it tough waiting for today as you saw other recruits around the state had their decisions?
"It was kind of tough. But you know, it's like I told Coach [Jake] Fonvielle when it first happened, I said ‘Man, Coach I don't know. I'm going to wait until Signing Day.' And I figured out what was best for me and best for my family."
What difference did it make that Greg Elleby is there?
"'Beast' [Elleby] was a great player out here [at South Columbus]. I was coming up here my eighth grade here I watched him play. Next year, he'll be a senior [and] I'll be a freshman [at UNC]. Playing together is going to be great."
Was there any academic preference between the two schools?
"Academic wise, Carolina has one of the best programs for what I want to go to school for. I want to go to school for sports medicine. They have a top notch program."
Who recruited you for UNC? What was the relationship like with him?
"Sam Pittman. Just talking to him was great. One-on-one, he's great. He's a great guy. He seems like a great coach. I hear a lot of talk about how he's a great guy."
Were there any conversations with coach John Blake at all?
"I last talked to Coach Blake last Tuesday. He's still talking the same – they want to use me as a D-tackle. I'm going to see when I go up there."
You didn't officially visit UNC because of the weather. Did the lack of an official visit make the decision harder?
"In a way it did. I was hopped up to go for it and then I found out the disappointing news about the weather. It was best to be safe about it, so we decided just to stay home.
"I had been up there before for football games and I'd seen some of the campus then."
You rescheduled the official visit, though, right?
"Yeah, I rescheduled for February the 12th."
As a child, being a Tar Heel fan was there a time you fantasized being a particular person?
"Growing up, I wanted to play basketball for North Carolina. Growing up, I really didn't start playing football until my fourth grade year, other than playing around in my yard. I worked hard and football was the sport that worked out for me.
"My dad probably doesn't want me to tell it, but when I was a baby I had a Tar Heel toboggan. And every night, when I went to bed, he would put it in my crib."
Sounds like choosing UNC was destined to happen?
"There's a bunch of people in my family, a couple people that go to my church [were UNC fans]. And as I was growing up this is where I wanted to go."
What about your mom – what did she think of your decision?
"She was leaning towards Clemson. But she's going to have to get used to Carolina Blue."