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Eric Ebron emerging for the Indianapolis Colts

The former Tar Heel tight end seems to have found his niche in the NFL.

Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Eric Ebron played tight end for the Tar Heels from 2011-2013. In his sophomore season, he set the Carolina record for receiving yards at his position with 625 yards, only to shatter that record the following season with 973 yards. As a junior, Ebron earned first-team All-ACC honors and made his way onto the second-team AP All-American team. He also made the list of finalists for the John Mackey Award, an award that is given to the nation’s best tight end.

After this extremely decorated college career, Ebron was selected 10th overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2014 NFL draft. He spent four seasons with the Lions, recording 186 receptions for 2,070 yards and 11 touchdowns. While his stint in Detroit wasn’t a total failure, Ebron didn’t produce like he was expected to, especially for a top 10 pick. That he was picked ahead of current all-world wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr only added to the sting for many Lions fans. The Lions decided to release him back in March, but he was quickly scooped up by the Colts.

Since arriving in Indianapolis, Ebron has broken out as one of the best tight ends in the league. Through five games, he has 26 receptions for 255 yards and five touchdowns, his most recent performance being a 105-yard, two-touchdown outpouring against the New England Patriots on Thursday. Though the game didn’t turn out in favor of the Colts (the Patriots won 38-24), Ebron did manage to outshine the supposed best tight end in the league, Rob Gronkowski, who collected 6 receptions and 75 yards.

After being written off by some as a “bust”, Ebron is seizing this opportunity to revitalize his career. At just 25 and still oozing with talent, he still has still plenty of time to get things turned around. His league-leading five touchdown catches, and the rest of his stats near the top of the league as well, are a start towards his realizing the potential he has flashed throughout his career.

With Andrew Luck lacking dependable targets on the outside and Jack Doyle suffering a hip injury, Luck and Ebron have developed a great rapport. The Colts’ receivers have struggled with drops, and though that has been considered a weakness of Ebron’s over the past few seasons, he’s actually been pretty reliable in terms of minimizing those errors. He had a bad drop in the aforementioned Patriots game, but it was his first of the season. He appears to have become Luck’s second-favorite target behind T.Y. Hilton, so it’s safe to assume he will continue to see consistent production.

It’s nice to see Eric Ebron finally on the path that Tar Heel fans expected when he arrived in the NFL. Here’s hoping he can maintain this level of play throughout the rest of this season as well as his career.