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All-time UNC Football Top 25 Countdown: No. 21 Ken Huff

The big guard led an offensive line that paved the way for two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season.

Ken Huff 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.

Coach Bill Dooley’s offense was a well-oiled machine in 1974. The offense set, and still holds, many records that season. Quarterback Chris Kupec had one of the most efficient years from the pocket in North Carolina Tar Heels history. Kupec still holds the Carolina record for passer rating in a season (174.3) and completion percentage (69.3).

However, the Dooley era established Running Back University. Starting with UNC’s first 1,000-yard rusher Don McCauley, in 1969, Carolina produced 19 tailbacks that gained over 1,000 yards in the next 20 years.

In 1974, two running backs, Jim Betterson and Mike Voight, each gained 1,000 yards during the season. This was the first time, and one of only four occurrences this milestone was reached in program history. The Tar Heels led the ACC in total offense, rushing, and scoring. Nationally, UNC was fifth in total offense and ninth in scoring.

This success in the backfield would not have been realized without an effective offensive line ahead of them. Dooley, an All-SEC guard at Mississippi State during his playing days, produced 10 first-team All-ACC offensive linemen during his 11 seasons at Carolina.

Ken Huff was one of the most decorated offensive linemen of not only the Dooley era, but in UNC history. The three-year starter was a key piece of the 1972 ACC Champions and the high-octane 1974 offense.

Honors and Awards

Huff, the offensive captain of the 1974 team, was a consensus All-American that year. As a first-team All-American, his #68 jersey is honored at Kenan Stadium. He was named to the 1974 All-ACC first team, and won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best blocker in the ACC.

In 2008, Huff was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. In 2013, Huff received the Walter Camp Football Foundation Alumni Award. He was named to the ACC Legends Class of 2015.

Top Games at UNC

As a sophomore, Huff was a starter on the 11-1 Tar Heel squad that captured the program’s third ACC Championship. UNC capped off their season against Texas Tech in the Sun Bowl. Trailing 21-16 heading into the fourth quarter, it was back and forth between the Tar Heels and Red Raiders. Texas Tech held a four-point lead with a minute to play when a Tar Heel touchdown and two-point conversion put Carolina ahead for good, 32-28. The team finished the season 12th in the AP Poll and 14th in the Coaches Poll.

In 1975, Huff was named the Captain of the College All-Stars team that faced off against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the reigning Super Bowl Champions. Here are some clips of the game. Huff is introduced at the 4:45 mark:

After UNC

Huff was taken by the Baltimore Colts with the 3rd overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft, one pick ahead of future Hall of Famer Walter Payton.

In Baltimore, Huff was teammates with legendary UNC tailback Don McCauley. Huff became a starter in his third professional season. His most notable game with the Colts was the 1977 AFC Divisional Round Playoffs versus the Oakland Raiders, known for its famous “Ghost to the Post” play. He was Baltimore’s starting right guard in that game.

Huff spent his final three professional seasons with the Washington Redskins, joining up with the famous “Hogs” offensive line of the successful Redskins teams during the 1980s. He was a reserve during Washington’s loss in Super Bowl XVIII.

Today, Huff is a builder in the Chapel Hill area. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Bill Dooley chapter of the National Football Foundation.