2011 Intro: Eric Ebron

GREENSBORO, N.C. --- Although he had never played a down of high school football, North Carolina offered Eric Ebron a scholarship last summer.

"His first offer on the table was Carolina," Smith head football coach Rodney Brewington said. "ECU was the first Division I school to see him, but they were waiting for film [before offering]. He happened to go to Carolina's camp and just wow the coaches."

Since the UNC offer, five other schools have offered Ebron – Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Maryland, and Miami. Additionally, schools like South Carolina, Virginia, and Virginia Tech are close to offering the 6-foot-5, 225-pound tight end.

"Eric possesses a unique size and he's so athletic," Brewington said. "Literally, if we wanted him at running back, he could play running back – he's just that athletic, despite being that big. He's big, he's graceful, he has soft hands, and he has a tremendous upside."

During his freshman year, Ebron transferred into Smith High from Providence (R.I.) North. He was a welcomed site for Brewington, who is charged with turning Smith's football program around.

"We were going to bring him in at quarterback," Brewington said. "My first year here, Eric comes in the door – he's 6-5. I said ‘There goes my quarterback.' What we found out about Eric: he can throw it 70 yards, but he couldn't throw it seven."

Thus, Ebron was moved exclusively to defensive end. During the summer heading into his sophomore season, though, he got a chance to display his offensive potential.

"[Our tight end at the time] and I had a difference of opinion, so I told him to leave the team until he could see it my way," Brewington said. "We had a seven-on-seven against Parkland and we had Eric replace [the starting tight end], because he is 6-5. We told Eric to run deep and he goes up against three kids and scores a touchdown. We throw it to him again, he does it again. Pretty soon we were like ‘Oh my God.'"

"I've always played receiver; I've just always been a better defensive end," Ebron said. "But I showed out at [the seven-on-seven at] Parkland at tight end. Ever since then, that's been my spot."

However, before his sophomore season kicked off, Brewington decided to keep Ebron off the team to avoid any eligibility issues.

"He came in the middle of the year so he wasn't able to get all of his credits," Brewington said. "So to be on the safe side, we sat him out that year until we got all of his credits, because you never want a kid to play and not be sure of his eligibility."

The following summer, Ebron attended UNC's camp as an unknown receiver.

"[Ebron] was doing so well with the receivers that the tight ends coach, Coach ‘Mo' [Allen Mogridge], he saw him and said ‘Hey Coach, do you mind sticking around for the second half of the day,' because we were headed down to Duke [for the second half] to do their [camp], as well," Brewington said. "He worked out with [Mogridge, who] loved him, and they expressed interest in him coming to Carolina that day. It's kind of taken off from there."

Relatively speaking, Ebron headed into his junior season with a lot of hype. He met, if not exceeded, expectations by catching 21 passes for 445 yards and five touchdowns in Smith's balanced, multiple-I offense.

"Eric makes things easy for us, so we're going to exploit him as much as we can this upcoming year," Brewington said. "Not to take anything away from anyone else, he's our most consistent target. As far as the go-to guy, he is in certain situations. We're very fortunate this year to have a lot of skill guys around him."

What statistics didn't measure was Ebron's impact once he stepped on the field.

"If Eric never caught a ball, because of the way we play him – we flex this 6-5 kid out – it causes defenses to respect him," Brewington said. "Really a lot of times he's a decoy. We get him the ball early and often, which opens things up for other guys later. But if we wanted to, we could throw it to him every time."

Ironically, Ebron isn't a full time player on offense, but is on defense. In certain offensive packages he'll be on the sidelines for rest.

In Smith's 4-2-5 defense, Ebron is the strong-side end. He finished his junior season with 44 tackles, including 11 for a loss and seven sacks.

"He's definitely a pass rusher [and] run stopper," Brewington said. "… What we do normally to his side is play it base and we send the heat to the other side, because we know that he's going to demand respect and a double-team [on his side]."

Brewington says Ebron is also a "pretty good" long snapper. However, for the sake of giving him a rest, Ebron only long snaps in emergency situations.

As of now, Ebron plans to wait until Signing Day to make his collegiate decision. He figures to take all five of his official visits.

In order of preference, Ebron's top three schools are: UNC, Clemson, and Miami.

"Carolina is just such a family atmosphere," Ebron said. "You go there you feel loved by the team, by the coaches, the people around Carolina.

"Clemson, I've just heard a lot, but also seeing pictures and talking to the coaches. They seem like there is a big interest.

"Miami is just a dream school. It's just a place I've always liked. I can't wait to visit there and see how it really is."

The only schools Ebron has visited are East Carolina, UNC, and NC State. He attended games at both UNC and NC State, and camped at ECU and UNC.

This past Saturday Ebron was in Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels' Junior Day.

"It was a great experience," Ebron said. "I've been to Carolina's game field, practice field – everything like that. But to actually get inside Carolina, that was pretty cool. I got to see the apartments and everything else."

Throughout his time on campus Saturday, Ebron spent a great deal of time with Allen Mogridge, UNC's tight ends coach.

"We sat down and we talked," Ebron said. "We went over a couple of plays that Carolina runs. He was showing me what I'd be playing with the X, Y, and the Z."

Outside of attending the UNC-NC State basketball game, Ebron's stay was highlighted by an exclusive look at UNC's new game day attire.

"I was the only person that got to actually go into Butch Davis' office where we got to see the new helmets, the new jerseys, the new cleats," Ebron said. "I was like ‘Wow. They're going to be looking like fire for the LSU game.' Expect a little black and a little [Carolina] blue."

Ebron has been busy this winter as the starting center on the basketball team, but is considering attend Maryland's Junior Day next month.

During the summer, Ebron plans to hit the camping circuit hard.

"Wherever I can get to, I'm going," Ebron said. "Miami has definitely been on the list – I've been waiting for that. I'll probably go back to UNC's camp."

Eric Ebron Profile

Inside Carolina Top Stories