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

Another Look at Two-Sport Tar Heels

Ronald Curry #22, Edward Scott #10
Ronald Curry in the Smith Center during the 2000-01 season

Last week, Tar Heel Blog took you back to the first half of the 20th century to look at the two-sport student-athletes in football and basketball at Carolina. This week, we look Tar Heels that competed both on the basketball court and the gridiron in the “ACC Era” since 1953.

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 are 14 student-athletes that lettered in football and competed in basketball.

Dick Kocornik - Football: 1953, Basketball: 1953-54

Albert Long - Football: 1954, Basketball: 1952-55

Ed Sutton - Football: 1956, Basketball: 1954-55
Sutton was on the All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team at the halfback position in 1956 and an Academic All-ACC selection in 1954 and 1956. He led the team in total offense, scoring, receiving, rushing, kickoff returns, punt returns, and all-purpose yards in 1956. That same year, he served as a captain of the football team. Sutton holds the career UNC record for yards-per-rush with a minimum of 150 rushes with a 6.9 yards average. He was selected in the third round of the 1957 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, and played four seasons for Washington and the New York Giants. He went on to earn a medical degree while playing professional football and was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

Danny Lotz - Football: 1959, Basketball: 1956-59
Lotz served as the captain of the 1958-59 basketball team. He was a member of the undefeated 1957 NCAA National Championship basketball team.

Bill Taylor - Football: 1961, Basketball: 1962-63

Earl Johnson - Football: 1965, Basketball: 1963-64

Mike Smith - Football: 1968, Basketball: 1964-66
Smith served as a captain of the 1968 football team.

Charles Waddell - Football: 1974, Basketball: 1972-74
Waddell was a 1974 first-team All-American selection at tight end. He was on the All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team and Academic All-ACC team in 1973. From the football media guide:

Waddell rates as one of the best all-around athletes in Carolina history. He won three football letters, two in basketball and one in track. Not only was he a fine receiver at tight end, but he was also a dynamic blocker. He set a school single-game record in 1974 with three touchdown catches against Clemson. He had 41 career catches for 518 yards and seven TDs. His professional career was cut short by a knee injury.

Waddell was drafted by San Diego in the 1975 NFL Draft. He has served in several sports administration positions, including jobs with the Big Ten and the Carolina Panthers. In 2015, he was honored as a Tar Heel Trailblazer. Waddell is currently the Deputy Athletics Director at the University of South Carolina.

Octavus Barnes - Football: 1997, Basketball: 1994-95
Barnes was an All-ACC second-team selection in 1995. He led the team in receiving in 1994 and in punt return average in 1995. Barnes remains one of the top receivers in UNC history, ranking in the top five in career, season, and game receiving yards, along with receiving touchdowns and yards-per-catch. He holds the UNC bowl game record for number of receptions (9), receiving yardage (165), and receiving touchdowns (2). Barnes played two seasons in the NFL, both with the Atlanta Falcons.

Ronald Curry - Football: 2001, Basketball: 1998-99, 2000-01
Curry ranks number five in career total offense at UNC with 6,236 yards. He holds the record for most yards gained by a freshman with 370 yards versus Stanford in 1998. Curry was an Academic All-ACC selection in 2001. He led the football team in total offense in 1998, 1999, and 2000, and served as a captain of the 2000 and 2001 football teams. Curry was drafted by Oakland in the 2002 NFL Draft, and spent seven seasons as a Raider. He spent three seasons as a coach with the San Francisco 49ers and now serves as an Offensive Assistant with the New Orleans Saints.

Curry led the basketball team in assists during the 2000-01 season. In the “Fantastic Finishes” section in the basketball media guide, Curry is mentioned in a 85-83 victory over Duke on February 1, 2001:

Carolina led by as many as 13 in the first half, but Duke took the lead midway through the second half. Ronald Curry scored six straight points in 48 seconds to give the Tar Heels a 63-59 lead. UNC later built a seven-point lead, but the Blue Devils tied the score with three seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds play, Shane Battier fouled Brendan Haywood and the UNC seven-footer hit both free throws with one second left for the win.

Julius Peppers - Football: 2001, Basketball: 1999-2001
In football, Peppers was a first-team All-American in 2000 and unanimous All-American in 2001. His #49 jersey is honored at Kenan Memorial Stadium. In 2001, Peppers won the Bednarki Award for the top collegiate defensive player, the Chevrolet National Defensive Player of the Year award, and the Lombardi Award for the outstanding college lineman of the year. He ranks second in career sacks (30.5), season sacks (15), and career tackles for loss (53) at UNC. Peppers holds the UNC record for number of sacks in a game (four in a 2001 game against Virginia) and the record for most tackles for loss in a season (24). He led the team in interceptions in 2001 with three, including one pick-six. From the football media guide:

In just three seasons, Peppers finished second at Carolina in career sacks and tackles for loss. In 2000, he led the nation with 15 sacks and established a school record with 24 tackles for losses. The following year, Peppers led a defense that finished first in the ACC and 15th in the nation in total defense. He became just the second Tar Heel and the first since Lawrence Taylor to earn unanimous All-America honors.

Peppers was named to the ACC Top 50 Greatest Football Players for the 50th anniversary of the conference. He was drafted second overall by the Carolina Panthers in the 2002 NFL Draft. He played eight seasons for the Panthers, four for the Chicago Bears, and is currently in his third year with the Green Bay Packers. As of Week Eight in the 2016 NFL season, he has 644 career combined tackles, 139.5 career sacks, 11 career interceptions, and 46 career forced fumbles. He is a nine-time Pro Bowler, most recently selected last year. Peppers was the 2004 NFC Defensive Player of the Year and the 2002 NFL Defensive Rookies of the Year. He was named three times as a First-Team All-Pro selection and three times to the All-Pro second-team. Tar Heel Blog checked in on Peppers and other Tar Heels in the NFL a few weeks ago.

In basketball, Peppers was a member of the 2000 Final Four team. Peppers is mentioned in the “Fantastic Finishes” portion of the basketball media guide, detailing the first round NCAA Tournament game from that Final Four run, a 74-69 win over Tennessee:

Carolina was unranked for the first time in 10 years and entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 8 seed . . . Ed Cota tied the game on a driving lay-up and followed with a jumper to give UNC the lead with 1:59 left. [Joseph] Forte, Julius Peppers and Cota each hit two free throws in the final 0:34 to cap a 15-3 Tar Heel run and a 74-69 win.

In 2001, Peppers, along with two-sporter Ronald Curry, helped the Tar Heels claim a share of the ACC Regular Season Championship.

Jesse Holley - Football: 2006, Basketball: 2003-05
Holley led the football team in receiving in 2005. He was an undrafted free agent in the NFL, and spent two seasons on the active roster of the Dallas Cowboys.

In basketball, Holley was a member of the 2005 NCAA National Championship team.

Brooks Foster - Football: 2008, Basketball: 2004-05
Foster was drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. An injury in a preseason game during his first season was detrimental to his professional prospects.

In basketball, Foster was a member of the 2005 NCAA National Championship team.

Greg Little - Football: 2009, Basketball: 2007-08
Little led the football team in receiving and all-purpose yards in 2009. He was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft by Cleveland and spent five seasons with the Browns and Cincinnati Bengals.

Will Chazz Surratt, the talented dual-threat quarterback, be the next to join this list? The 6-3 true freshman had a preferred walk-on position offered by Coach Roy Williams, as reported by Inside Carolina. Plus, the story about flipping his commitment from Duke to UNC is great.

What are your memories of these two-sport Heels?