The National Football Foundation announced their list of names that will be on the ballot for the 2021 College Football Hall of Fame. Among the 78 FBS members on the ballot were two Tar Heel greats that will look to add their names to the short list of Tar Heels to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Both Harris Barton and Julius Peppers will have the chance to become the Tar Heels sixth player inducted into the hall of fame which is located in Atlanta. We give you our opinions on the chances for each guy to have his name inducted this year.
Even though Peppers had some success on the basketball court, he is one of the best defensive players to ever grace the ACC gridiron. Peppers was redshirted as a true freshman tight end in 1998, but he switched to defensive end during the offseason of 1999. As a redshirt freshman defensive end, Peppers was named to the Sporting News Freshman All-American team after finishing with 50 total tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks. His sophomore season was where he officially broke on to the national scene, as he finished the season with a NCAA-leading 15.0 sacks, finished third in the nation with 24.0 tackles for loss, was an All-ACC first team selection and a second All-American selection. The season that everyone will remember at the college level for Peppers, however, will be his junior season in 2001. Peppers finished with 19.0 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks, but also finished the season with three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He was named a first team All-ACC member for the second straight season, but was also a unanimous first team All-American, as well. Peppers won three postseason awards following the 2001 season, as he took home the Chuck Bednarik (best defensive player in the country), Bill Willis (best defensive lineman in the country) and Lombardi (best all-around player in the country) trophies and was a finalist for the Bronco Nagurski Award. Peppers also finished 10th in the Heisman rate for that 2001 season.
Chances: Lock. While the ballot is loaded with some really great names, it’s hard to find many guys, even in this class, with a better case than Peppers right now. I would fully expect him to be amongst the class that will likely be announced sometime in December.
Barton started all four years of his Tar Heel career spending his first year and a half at center before making the move over to left tackle where he became one of the best offensive tackles in the country. In his four seasons on campus, the Tar Heels saw four running backs run for 1,000 or more yards and averaged 394.2 yards of total offense per game. He was a two time All-ACC member, earning those honors in each of his final two seasons, a consensus first-team All-America selection in 1986 and a Jacobs Blocking Trophy recipient that same season.
Chances: Slim. As we said above, this ballot is loaded and unfortunately for Barton, he doesn’t appear to have a résumé that sticks out the way that Peppers does. While it would be great to see Barton join Peppers this year, he will likely be waiting for a down year for his chance to get in.