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All-time UNC Football Top 25 Countdown: No. 23 Marcus Jones

The All-American defensive lineman remains a leader in the UNC stats book.


This summer, Tar Heel Blog will profile the top 25 players in the history of the North Carolina football program. The rankings were determined by votes from readers and staff.

In the 1990s, North Carolina Tar Heels football brought in premiere players on the defensive line, and Marcus Jones was the first in a nearly continuous decade-long stretch of decorated D-linemen.

Career at UNC

Marcus Jones Career Statistics

Year Total Tackles Tackles for Loss TFL Yards Sacks
Year Total Tackles Tackles for Loss TFL Yards Sacks
1992 16 4 6 1
1993 50 10.5 89 8.5
1994 62 12.5 56 7.5
1995 94 19 74 7
Totals 222 46 225 24

1995 was a career year for Jones. His seven sacks during his senior season brought his career total to 24, breaking Lawrence Taylor’s previous school record of 21 career sacks. That record was short lived as just two years later Greg Ellis’s 32.5 career sacks set the still-standing career sacks record.

At UNC, Jones ranks third in career sacks (24), fourth in career tackles for loss (46), and has the seventh-highest season tackles for loss total in a season (19). It is interesting to note that although Jones in third in career sacks, his best single season in sacks does not break the top 10 in program history. This is a testament to his high-performing consistency during his sophomore, junior, and seniors seasons.

Honors and Awards

Jones was named a consensus first-team All-American in 1995. This honor allows his #71 jersey to be honored in Kenan Stadium.

Also in 1995, he was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year, the last UNC player to earn the award. He was a finalist for the Football News National Defensive Player of the Year Finalist, and earned his second straight first-team All-ACC selection.

In 1994, he was named an All-American and to the All-ACC first team. In 1993, he was an All-ACC second-team selection.

Jones was named to the ACC Legends Class of 2008, and was honored at that year’s ACC Championship game.

Top Games at UNC

1995 was an underwhelming year for Carolina football. Ranked in the preseason at No. 20, the team dropped the first two games and never recovered in the polls. UNC won the last two games of the regular season against Duke and NC State to become bowl eligible.

The Tar Heels (6-5) were selected for the Carquest Bowl in Miami against No. 24 Arkansas (8-4). The heavily favored Razorbacks were on the board first and led 10-7 in the third quarter. The eventual bowl MVP, UNC running back Leon Johnson, put the Heels ahead for good. On the final offensive play for Arkansas, and final in the colligate career of Jones, he sacked the quarterback. Jones finished the game with five tackles, four of which were for loss, and a sack.

After UNC

Jones was selected in the 1996 NFL Draft in the 1st round by Tampa Bay with the 22nd overall pick. He played six seasons in the NFL, registering 24 sacks and 125 total tackles. The 2000 season was his most productive, registering career highs in sacks (13) and total tackles (36). His 13 sacks were good for eighth in the NFL. Injuries hampered his career, being released by Tampa Bay in 2002 and waived by Buffalo soon after.

After football, Jones had a brief career in MMA, competing on The Ultimate Fighter. After The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale, Jones retired from MMA.

There were some big games back in the early and mid-1990s. What are your favorite Marcus Jones moments from the Mack Brown era?