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UNC Football: Two Tar Heels nominated for College Football Hall of Fame

Julius Peppers and Harris Barton are among the finalists for the Class of 2021.

North Carolina v Maryland Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The last North Carolina Tar Heels player or coach to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame was Mack Brown, who gained entrance just a few short months before getting rehired as UNC coach back in 2018. The nominees for the class of 2021 have been announced, and there’s a chance we’ll see a couple more Tar Heels go into the hall.

Julius Peppers and Harris Barton were included among the nominees for the next class, which will be announced early next year.

Peppers retired from a likely Pro Football Hall of Fame career after the 2018 season, but considering this honor and the fact that he was selected #2 overall in the NFL Draft, his college career was also quite legendary.

In three seasons at Carolina, Peppers accumulated 30.5 sacks, 53 tackles for loss, five interceptions, and five forced fumbles. In sacks, he fell just two shy of the Tar Heels’ all-time leader, Greg Ellis, who played four seasons.

In his junior year in 2000, Peppers led the nation with 15 sacks, and that arguably wasn’t even his best year at UNC. The next year, he was a unanimous All-American and won the Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defender. He also managed to do all that while walking on to the basketball team and helping them to the 2000 Final Four.

His NFL Draft selection of #2 overall is tied for the highest any UNC player has ever gone. As mentioned, his pro career is worthy of an induction to that Hall of Fame as well, as he made nine Pro Bowl teams and was a member of the All-Decade teams for both the 00s and the 10s. Peppers is without a doubt one of the best athletes on any team in any sport in school history and seems like a no brainer for the Hall of Fame.

Barton also had a great career, eventually winning three Super Bowls with the 49ers in the 80s. Prior to all of that, he had a great career in Carolina blue. Coach Dick Crum got Barton to come to UNC over a host of great football schools. He then went on to be a four-year starter from 1983-86 at various places across the offensive line.

Barton was named an All-American for his 1986 senior season, helping UNC to a 7-4-1 record and a bowl trip for the first time since 1983. Following that season, he was selected in the first round, 22nd overall, in the NFL Draft by the 49ers. He was tasked with helping keep Joe Montana and then later Steve Young upright over a 12-season career during which he was named an All-Pro twice.

The ballots have already been sent to the voters but, as mentioned, the results will not be announced for several more months.

Six Tar Heels are already members of the hall, including current assistant coach Dre Bly. Hopefully, at least one, ideally both, will be added to that list, as they certainly have the résumés.