On Wednesday, the finalists for the class of 2022 for the College Football Hall of Fame were announced, and a pair of Tar Heels will be among those who will be considered for induction. North Carolina’s Ken Huff and Julius Peppers are two of the dozens on this year’s ballot, the voting of which runs through June 25th before an announcement early next year.
Peppers is returning to the ballot after being included last year but missing out on induction. You would have to assume that even if he doesn’t get in this year, he won’t be waiting too much longer.
The Tar Heel legend was a unanimous All-American in his junior season in 2001, and that was just part of the accolades he got that year. He also won the Bill Willis Trophy as the best defensive lineman, the Lombardi Award as the best lineman of any kind, and the Chuck Bednarik Award as the best defensive player in the country in one of the best seasons by any UNC football player. He was also an All-ACC player the year before after leading the conference in sacks. That career led him to being the #2 overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, where he went on to have another Hall of Fame caliber career.
Not that it’ll get him any more considering, but he also quite famously was a dual sport athlete and helped UNC to a Final Four on the basketball court.
Ken Huff was not on the ballot last year, but had been on it as recently as 2019.
Huff was a consensus All-American in the 1974 season, helping UNC to a Sun Bowl appearance under coach Bill Dooley. He won the Jacobs Trophy as the ACC’s top lineman and was voted as the captain of a college all-star team that played the Super Bowl Champion Steelers in an exhibition game. Two years before that, he helped UNC to one of their best ever seasons as the Tar Heels went 11-1 and won the ACC.
Like Peppers, he also was selected high in the ensuing NFL Draft, going #3 overall. He went on to have a long career in the pros with the Colts and Washington.
One of the Hall of Fame’s rules for eligibility is that a player must have played in college within the last 50 years. Seeing as Huff’s final season was in 1974, we are coming rapidly up to that 50 year mark.
The most recent Tar Heel to get into the Hall was offensive lineman, who was voted in as part of last year’s class. Two members of the current coaching staff are members of the Hall: Dré Bly who was inducted as a player in 2014, and head coach Mack Brown was voted in as part of the 2018 class for his work at Texas and his first stint as the Heels’ head coach.
The class will be announced some time early next week. Congrats and good luck to both Huff and Peppers!