CHAPEL HILL– Saturday’s game against No. 24 Duke will be junior tight end Eric Ebron’s final home game as a Tar Heel.

Ebron made the announcement Monday that he will be forgoing his senior year of eligibility to enter the 2014 NFL Draft following UNC’s bowl game.

Ebron says he’s excited to put the decision behind him. Now he says he can really enjoy the rest of his days as a Carolina student-athlete.  

“I just want to get it all over with it, so I can live out the rest of my days as a Carolina athlete without so much stress from everyone wanting to know what I’m going to do or what I’m not going to do. I can just enjoy it and be a regular student-athlete once again,” Ebron says.

Currently, Ebron sits No. 12 on ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper’s Big Board. He is rated the nation’s top tight end. But ultimately, Ebron says it was his mother that weighed heavily on his decision and 95 percent of his life choices.

“My mom played a role in every role that I make in life. She’s the reason why I’m here. She’s the reason why I’ve decided to declare for the draft. She’s the reason why I play football. And she’s the reason why I’m born. My mom plays a role in everything. She has the final say-so in 95 percent of my life. The other five percent is when I’m on Playstation,” Ebron says. 

The Greensboro native leads Carolina with 50 receptions for 774 yards and three touchdowns this season. He holds the single-season and career records for catches and receiving yards by a tight end. So far, he has 100 career catches for 1,606 yards.

Fittingly, Ebron was named a finalist for the 2013 John Mackey Award on Monday as well. He is one of three finalists for the award given to the nation’s premier college tight end.

Teammate and close friend Marquise Williams says he has known about Ebron’s decision for a while now. He says Ebron is the most athletic player on the Tar Heels roster.

“I don’t even know if he’s a tight end. He’s a tight end, running back and receiver. The guy can do it all. He’s the most athletic player we got on our team, and he does it all,” Williams says.

Head Coach Larry Fedora says he’s a bit torn with Ebron’s decision. He says he thinks it is a good choice for his future, but he is sad to see such a talented player leave.

“I’m proud of what Eric has accomplished and how he has represented the University of North Carolina. I’m excited for him and his future. I think this was a good decision by him and his family. I fully support it. We’ll be sad to see him go but excited also, for his future,” Coach Fedora says.

And for those that believe Ebron may have been taking it easy in recent weeks in order to avoid possible injuries, Ebron offers another reason for his sideline stints.

“I just wanted to make sure I was 110 percent for this Duke game,” Ebron says.

That’s good news for Tar Heel fans. But will 110 percent be enough this weekend? Ebron will make his last hurrah in front of a packed Kenan Memorial Stadium this Saturday in the nationally televised rivalry showdown.