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All-time UNC Football Top 25 Countdown: No. 15 William Fuller

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A three-time first-team All-ACC selection, Fuller remains the career tackles for loss leader at UNC.

William Fuller Photo courtesy UNC Athletic Communications

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 early 1980s, it was an especially great time to be a Tar Heel. After Lawrence Taylor left after the 1980 season, William Fuller was there to lead the North Carolina Tar Heels defense. Those successful early 80s teams were filled with talent, and Fuller ended his four years as one of the most decorated defensive linemen in UNC history.

Career at UNC

William Fuller Career Statistics

Year Total Tackles Tackles for Loss Sacks
Year Total Tackles Tackles for Loss Sacks
1980 1 0 0
1981 84 22-87 9-66
1982 59 13-85 6-70
1983 81 22-81 5-46
Totals 225 57-253 20-182

Fuller remains the career tackles for loss leader with 57. His 22 tackles for loss in both 1981 and 1983 are tied for third best in a season at UNC. Fuller ranks sixth at Carolina in career sacks with 20, and has the ninth best total in a season with nine sacks.

Honors and Awards

Fuller was a first-team All-American in 1982 and 1983. He is one of six UNC players to receive two first-team All-American honors. He was named a consensus All-American in 1983. Because of Fuller’s All-American honors, his #95 jersey is honored in Kenan Memorial Stadium.

Fuller was named to the first-team All-ACC team in 1981, 1982, and 1983, and the only unanimous choice on the 1983 All-ACC team. He is one of four UNC players to be named to three first-team All-ACC teams, and one of only three defensive lineman in league history to make the All-ACC team for three straight seasons.

In 2002, Fuller was one of eight UNC players on the ACC’s Top 50 football players for the 50th anniversary of the league.

in 2016, he was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame.

Top Games at UNC

In Fuller’s three seasons as a starter, the Heels finished with an overall record of 26-10, and won two of three bowl games.

Before Kelvin Bryant’s injury in the 1981 season, the Tar Heels were poised to repeat as ACC Champions and make a run towards a final #1 ranking. The Tar Heels finished the season ranked ninth in the country, and concluded with a 31-27 victory over Arkansas in the Gator Bowl.

At the end of the 1982 season, Carolina ended with a decisive 26-10 victory over Texas in the Sun Bowl:

After UNC

Fuller was selected by the Philadelphia Stars of the short-lived United States Football League. Anticipating the demise of the USFL, the NFL held a supplemental draft of players signed by USFL teams to determine the rights held by NFL teams rather than free agent scenario if/when the USFL dissolved. Fuller was selected 21st overall in the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft of USFL and CFL players by the Los Angeles Rams. Other notable players taken before Fuller include Steve Young, Gary Zimmerman, and Reggie White.

Fuller was teammates with UNC standout Kelvin Bryant on the Philadelphia, then Baltimore Stars. In 1984 and 1985, Fuller won two championships with the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars. He was named to the All-USFL team in 1985.

After the dissolution of the USFL, Fuller’s rights were traded from the Rams to the Houston Oilers, with whom he played eight seasons starting in 1986. In 1991, he earned his first of four Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. Fuller recorded 15 sacks in 1991, tied for second in the NFL.

Houston Oilers v San Francisco 49ers
William Fuller #95 of the Houston Oilers rushes the quarterback Joe Montana #16 during a game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on November 8, 1987
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

In 1994, Fuller signed a three-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. In each of his three years as an Eagle, he earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. Fuller recorded a total of 35.5 sacks in his three-year stint with the Eagles.

William Fuller Getty

Fuller signed with the San Diego Chargers for the 1997 and 1998 season. After less productive seasons with the Chargers, he retired following the 1998 season.

Fuller ended his career with 100.5 sacks. Only 31 total players in NFL history have at least 100 career sacks. UNC is one of three schools that have multiple alumni on that list. Carolina and Arizona State each have three alums with at least 100 NFL sacks, while Pitt has two on that list.

After his playing days, Fuller returned to his native Tidewater Virginia region and started a construction company, Fulco Development, and a consulting firm, Fuller Consulting Group.

He has done much to give back to the University of North Carolina and the greater Norfolk area. Fuller endowed a football scholarship at UNC, and has been heavily involved in many philanthropic and charitable organizations, including Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, United Way, Special Olympics, Ronald McDonald House, Philadelphia Services for the Blind, and the Boys' Club of America. In 2005, he received the Harvey E. Beech Outstanding Alumni Award for his philanthropic efforts.