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The history of UNC two-sport student-athletes—Part One

A Look at Two-Sport Tar Heels

Julius Peppers #49
Two-Sport Student-Athlete Julius Peppers
via Getty Images

In November, Carolina football will be playing pivotal games in their defense of the Coastal crown. Also in November, Carolina basketball will start their journey to another ACC title and Final Four appearance. As these seasons overlap, let’s take a look at some UNC student-athletes that competed in both football and basketball.

Information for this list was derived from the UNC media guides for football and basketball. The football media guide includes a list of all-time lettermen and the basketball media guide has a roster of players that appeared in at least one game. The dates with each name will include the year of their last football letter and the years on the basketball team.

There have been 43 Tar Heels that have lettered in football and appeared in a game for the basketball team. As you might guess, most of those players came from the first half of the 20th century when dual-sport competition was more common. This week, we’ll look at football and basketball players from the “Pre-ACC Era” prior to 1953.

Pre-ACC Era

There are 29 student-athletes that lettered in football and competed in basketball.

Lenoir Chambers - Football: 1911, Basketball: 1911-14

John Johnson - Football: 1912, Basketball: 1913-16
Johnson served as the captain of the 1915-16 basketball team.

William Wakeley - Football: 1912, Basketball: 1910-11

Walter Fuller - Football: 1914, Basketball: 1914-15

Roy Homewood - Football: 1915, Basketball: 1912-16

Robert Griffith - Football: 1919, Basketball: 1918-20

Howard Hanby - Football: 1920, Basketball: 1920-21

Beemer Harrell - Football: 1920, Basketball: 1916-17
Harrell served as the captain of the 1920 football team.

Henry Lineberger - Football: 1923, Basketball: 1921-24

Monk McDonald - Football: 1923, Basketball: 1920-24
McDonald served as the captain of the 1922-23 basketball team. He was an All-Southern Conference selection in 1922 and 1924, and was named to the All-Southern Conference tournament team in 1924. McDonald was a key player on the 1924 national championship basketball team. He went on to serve as head coach of the 1925 basketball team, compiling a 20-5 record and winning the SoCon tournament.

Jack Cobb - Football: 1925, Basketball: 1923-26
Cobb’s basketball jersey is retired and hangs in the rafters of the Smith Center. He was named the national player of the year in 1926, and was a consensus First-Team All-American in 1924, 1925, and 1926. He led the team in scoring three years, including during the 1924 national championship season. Cobb served as the captain of the 1924-25 basketball team. He was named as an All-Southern Conference player in 1924, 1925, and 1926, and to the All-Southern Conference tournament team in 1925 and 1926. From the basketball media guide:

March 4, 1924: Jack Cobb’s 15 points almost single-handedly outscores Alabama in a 26-16 win in the Southern Conference title game. UNC finishes 26-0 and the Helms Foundation later selects Carolina as national champions. Cobb leads all scorers with a single-season school record 353 points.

Bill Dodderer - Football: 1925, Basketball: 1923-26, 1927-28
Dodderer served as the captain of the 1925-26 basketball team. He was an All-Southern Conference selection in 1924, 1925, and 1926, and to the second-team All-Southern Conference tournament team in 1926.

Emmett Underwood - Football: 1925, Basketball: 1925-26

Bunn Hackney - Football: 1926, Basketball: 1924-27
Hackney has an important role in Carolina lore. Vic Huggins, head cheerleader, bought a Dorset ram in 1924 as UNC’s first mascot. The inspiration for a horned ram came from the football team’s star player Jack Merritt, nicknamed “The Battering Ram.” Rameses the First debuted in a pep rally before a game against the Virginia Military Institute. The rest, they say, is history. From the football media guide:

Then the ram was taken to Emerson Field where Carolina was an underdog to a strong VMI team. But, for three quarters the Tar Heels battled the visitors to a scoreless tie. Late in the fourth period Carolina’s Bunn Hackney was called upon to attempt a field goal. Before taking the field he stopped to rub Rameses’ head for good luck. Seconds later Hackney’s 30-yard dropkick sailed between the goalposts, giving the Tar Heels a 3-0 victory and a legendary mascot.

Hackney served as the captain of the 1926-27 basketball team. He was named to the All-Southern Conference tournament first-team in 1926 and the All-Southern Conference tournament second-team in 1927.

Julian Fenner - Football: 1929, Basketball: 1924-27

Stuart Chandler - Football: 1932, Basketball: 1931-33
Chandler led the football team in kickoff return yards in 1932.

John Phipps - Football: 1932, Basketball: 1931-32
Phipps led the football team in passing yards and total offense in 1932.

George Brandt - Football: 1933, Basketball: 1931-33
Brandt led the football team in receiving yards in 1932.

Jim McCachren - Football: 1935, Basketball: 1933-36
McCachren served as the captain of the basketball team in 1935-36. He was named as an All-Southern Conference player in 1934, 1935, and 1936, and to the All-Southern Conference tournament team in 1934, 1935, and 1936.

Randy Cooner - Football: 1936, Basketball: 1934-35
In a 1936 game against Virginia, Cooner and Jim Hutchins rushed for over 100 yards each.

Jim Hutchins - Football: 1936, Basketball: 1934-35
Hutchins was named an All-American in football in 1934. He was an All-Southern Conference first-team selection in 1936 as a tailback. He led the team in kickoff return yards in 1934, rushing yards in 1934 and 1936, and in total offense and scoring in 1936. Hutchins also was tied for the team lead in interceptions in 1936.

Andy Bershak - Football: 1937, Basketball: 1935-38

Bershak’s #59 football jersey is retired and immortalized in Kenan Memorial Stadium. He was an All-American selection in 1936 and a First-Team All-American in 1937. He was an All-Southern Conference first-team selection in 1936 and 1937. From the football media guide:

A 185-pound end, Bershak was a two-way performer for the Tar Heels. He was a fine receiver, but was even better on defense. He played two years for Carl Snavely and one for Ray Wolf. Bershak, an honor student, was also a basketball starter. He was selected to the Order of the Golden Fleece and served as president of the Carolina Athletic Association.

He led the team in receiving yards and served as a captain in 1937. Bershak was selected by the Detroit Lions in the 1938 NFL Draft.

In basketball, Bershak led the team in scoring in 1935-36 and 1937-38. He was named to the All-Southern Conference tournament second-team in 1936 and 1937. There’s an story from the 1936 SoCon tournament in the basketball media guide:

March 7, 1936: Trailing 42-30 with less than 10 minutes to play, the Tar Heels go on a 20-3 run to defeat Washington & Lee 50-45 to win the Southern Conference Tournament. The game was called the greatest comeback in the history of Southern basketball. Andy Bershak, who won All-America honors in football, scored the go-ahead basket and led UNC with 15 points.

Crowell Little - Football: 1937, Basketball: 1936-37
Little was an All-Southern Conference first-team selection as a back in 1937. He served as a captain, alongside Andy Bershak, in 1937. he led the team in passing yards in 1936 and 1937. In 1936, Little led the team in punt return yards, all-purpose yards, and, along with Jim Hutchins, tied for the team lead in interceptions. He led the team in kickoff return yards and scoring in 1937. Little remains a top ten all-time season leader at Carolina in punt return yards (355) and number of punt returns (37).

Paul Severin - Football: 1940, Basketball: 1938-41
Severin was a First-Team All-American in 1939 and 1940. His #87 jersey is honored at Kenan Memorial Stadium. He was an All-Southern Conference first-team selection in 1939 and 1940. From the football media guide:

Severin was a two-time All-America selection by the Associated Press (1939 and 1940) and made most of the all-star teams in his senior season. His career was filled with big plays—a touchdown catch to tie Tulane in 1939, two scoring catches against Penn that same season and a touchdown-saving tackle from behind of Duke’s great Steve Lach in a 6-3 win over the Blue Devils in 1940.

He led the football team in scoring in 1939. In 1940, Severin led the team in receiving yards in and served as a captain. He was chosen by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1941 NFL Draft.

In basketball, Severin was named as an All-Southern Conference player in 1940.

Jack Hussey - Football: 1943, Basketball: 1943-44

Barney Poole - Football: 1943, Basketball: 1943-44
Poole was tied for the team lead in number of receptions in 1943.

Fred Bauer - Football: 1944, Basketball: 1944-45

Bill Voris - Football: 1945, Basketball: 1944-45
Voris served as a captain of the 1945 football team. He was tied for the team lead in interceptions in 1944. Voris led the team in rushing and all-purpose yards in 1945. He was selected by the New York Giants in the 1946 NFL Draft.

Jack Fitch - Football: 1947, Basketball: 1943-44, 1946-47
Fitch led the football team in receiving in 1946. He played in Carolina’s first bowl game, the 1947 Sugar Bowl, and had four carries for five yards in a 20-10 loss to Georgia. Fitch was chosen by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1947 NFL Draft.

In basketball, Fitch made the All-Southern Conference tournament second-team in 1944.


Check back next week as Tar Heel Blog profiles two-sport student-athletes in football and basketball since 1953.