As we enter May, it's time for the annual offseason series. This year, we're going in-depth with a look at the best player to ever where each jersey number. This will be a ten part series where we will go ten numbers at a time for the next ten weeks. This week, we look at the best to wear numbers 1-10 in Tar Heel football history.
#1: Corey Holliday
This is far from the most decorated number in program history, but Myles Dorn and Ronald Curry all pieced together very strong careers. However, there is a clear choice here and that is one of the most decorated receivers in program history, Corey Holliday. The current assistant athletic was a standout in Mack Brown’s first tenure, finishing his career with 2,447 yards and seven touchdowns on 155 career receptions. The two-time second team All-ACC member still remains fourth on the all-time receiving list and he finished all four of his seasons at Carolina with at least 25 receptions and 450 receiving yards.
#2: Bryn Renner
This one was tougher than some may think. While Bryn Renner probably feels like the most obvious answer, Omar Brown had an extremely successful career in his time on campus, earning second team All-ACC honors twice in his career. Cliff Baskerville also saw some nice success in the jersey, finishing his career with eight interceptions. However, we’ll go with Renner because of just how successful he was able to be in his career despite going through three different head coaches in his time on campus. Renner’s 64 career passing touchdowns still rank second all-time in program history behind only Darian Durant and his 8,221 passing yards is third all-time behind only Durant and his predecessor T.J. Yates. Even with all of the success, Renner earned All-ACC honorable mention just once before his college career was cut short in his senior season due to a shoulder injury.
#3: Ryan Switzer
This is the most obvious answer so far as this number contains one of the top players in program history. Guys like Larry Griffin and Bosley Allen had plenty of success prior to him, but the clear choice here is Ryan Switzer. The Charleston, WV native is the program’s all-time leader in both receptions (243) and receiving yards (2,903) and his 19 receiving touchdowns are tied for fourth in school history. Switzer's seven punt return touchdowns are the most in program history and are tied for the fourth most in NCAA history. His five punt return touchdowns in 2013 are tied for most punt return touchdowns in NCAA history with Chad Brown of Hawaii. Switzer received first team-All ACC honors as a specialist in 2013 and then as a wide receiver in 2016, while also earning second and third team All-ACC a combine for time as a specialist or wide receiver. He would also earn unanimous first team All-American honors as a punt returner in 2013 and earned first team honors again in 2015, this time as an all-purpose player.
#4: Octavus Barnes
This involved a lot of back and forth and for good reason. There is a lot of success here, from Brooks Barwick, who had a lot of success as the Tar Heels kicker in 1982-83, to Norris Davis, who transitioned from wide receiver to become one of the top defensive backs in the ACC. Darian Durant has a strong case, but the fact that he wore No. 11 his first season hurts his case. That is the reason we’ll go with Octavus Barnes, who put together a great career while wearing No. 4 in all four of his active seasons. Barnes’ 2,398 receiving yards rank fifth in program history and his 19 receiving touchdowns are tied for fourth. Barnes' 18.6 yards per reception are the most by a receiver who finished his career with more than 100 career receptions. He was also an effective punt returner in his time on campus, averaging 10.0 yards per return, but, shockingly, he was never able to take one to the house. He finished with second-team All-ACC honors as a sophomore in 1995, his only postseason recognition of his career, somehow.
#5: Steve Streater
There are a lot of decorated receivers that have worn this jersey number, including one whose story is still being written. However, a guy that some may be considered the best overall athlete to play football for the Tar Heels gets the nod here. Steve Streater was a three year standout at both defensive back and punter, finishing his career with 11 career interceptions and averaging 41.8 yards on his 178 career punts. Streater is still one of only two Tar Heels to earn first team All-ACC at two different positions in the same season, doing so in 1980 at both defensive back and punter. Unfortunately, Streater was in a car accident that left him paralyzed in 1981 after a tryout with the Washington Redskins and he passed away at age 50 on June 20, 2009.
#6: Scott McAllister
This was really a two horse race that took some back and forth to decide. While M.J. Stewart was a phenomenal cornerback in his time on campus, punter Scott McAlister was just too decorated to be topped here. McAlister was a four year starter for the Tar Heels from 1988-1991, averaging 41.4 yards per punt on his 278 career punts. McAlister averaged at or above 39.0 yards per punt in each of his four seasons, including averaging more 42.0 yards per punt in both 1989 and 1990. He earned second All-ACC honors in each of his final three seasons.
#7: Sam Howell
This one might be most interesting because there is frankly just a lack of production from this number. Dan Vooletich had a solid finish to his career and both Bucky Brooks and Tim Scott both had very strong overall careers. Sam Howell will get the nod here, though, after setting multiple program and NCAA records in his first season on campus in a Tar Heel uniform. Howell finished his first season with 38 passing touchdowns, a mark that is now the program record and is also an NCAA true freshman record. He did all of that while also throwing for 3,641 yards, a number that sits just behind Mitch Trubisky’s 2016 season for the most in school history in a single season. The best part: that was just year one.
#8: T.J. Logan
This is a number that has quietly seen a lot of success. Tommy Richardson had two strong seasons to finish his career in the jersey, while Greg Little had a nice three year career prior to being deemed ineligible for his senior season. Michael Carter has had a very strong career so far and he still has to play his senior season in Chapel Hill. The biggest debate, though, came down to Tyrone Anthony and T.J. Logan, both of whom had very productive careers despite having to share their backfield with other productive running backs. Both are top ten in scrimmage yards amongst running backs and both finished their careers with more than 20 total touchdowns. We have to give the edge to Logan, though, based on the fact that he also had a decorated career as a kick returner. Logan finished his career with 2,828 scrimmage yards and 23 touchdowns on 474 touches and averaged 27.2 yards per kick return, finding the end zone five times on 77 career returns. His five kick return touchdowns are the most in program history, meaning it’s no shock that he was able to land second team All-ACC honors as a specialist in 2016.
#9: Keith Newman
There is more production than you may think here. Both Marvin Austin and Travis Hughes didn’t live up to lofty recruiting expectations, but both still had solid careers. Victor Harrison and Jesse Holley quietly pieced together a solid receiving career while donning the jersey. The biggest debate though came between the two players who shined in the jersey in the 90s in Jason Stanicek and Keith Newman. Stanicek had plenty of production at the quarterback position both through the air and on the ground, but we give just a slight edge to linebacker Keith Newman. Newman was an integral part of the mid and late-90s linebacking corps with three productive seasons to finish his career. In his final season on campus, Newman finished with 132 total tackles, 4.0 sacks and one interception on the way to earning second team All-ACC honors.
#10: Tre Boston
This is probably the most successful number that we’ve encountered so far. Both Andre Smith and Jeff Schottemer had productive careers at linebacker in the jersey recently. Both Dan Orner and Connor Barth were kickers that had productive careers while representing the number. Quarterback might have the biggest array of success in the number, though, with guys like Billy Paschall, Rod Elkins, Oscar Davenport and Mitch Trubisky all putting together solid resumes in the jersey. Tre Boston, though, is the man that stands out amongst everyone and is the choice we’ll go with here. Boston was a productive member of the Tar Heel secondary in all four seasons of his career, spending his first three years at corner before moving to safety for his final season. Boston closed his career with 282 total tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss and 13 interceptions, the latter of which ranks third all time in program history. Boston increased his interception total in each season, finishing each of his four years with at least one interception, closing his career with 94 total tackles, five interceptions and six passes deflections while earning second team All-ACC honors as a senior in 2013.