Heel Tough Blog: Offseason Series- Best to Wear The Number (61-70)
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 is a ten part series where we will go ten numbers at a time for ten weeks. This week, we look at the best to wear numbers 61-70 in Tar Heel football history.
#61: Mike Hobgood
There isn’t a ton of overall success for our first number here, but there are a couple of guys who put together nice careers in the jersey. Charlie Shaffer was an All-Southern selection in 1934, but our pick here is former offensive lineman Mike Hobgood. A two year starter at guard for the Tar Heels, Hobgood was part of an offensive line that paved the way for very successful seasons on the ground for Leon Johnson in 1996 and Jonathan Linton in 1997 and he helped pass protect for Chris Keldorf’s phenomenal 1996 season, one of the best season in program history for a quarterback at that time.
#62: Ron Rusnak
There is some nice success here in the No. 62, headlined by one of the ACC’s best offensive lineman. Battle Wall might just be the best name in program history and Will Frye was a two time all-conference selection in his career in the number. The clear choice here, though, is early 70s offensive guard Ron Rusnak. Rusnak had a great final two seasons of his career, earning first team All-ACC honors in both 1971 and 1972, and anchored an offensive line that helped the Tar Heels run for an average of 254.4 yards in a stretch where the team went 20-4. In 1972, Rusnak a unanimous first All-American and took home the prestigious Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the ACC best blocker.
#63: Jim LeCompte
It’s been a while since this number has seen a lot of success, but prior to the 1970s, this was home to some standouts. Barney Poole, a future College Football Hall of Famer, spent just one season in the jersey at Carolina during World War II and both Jack Fitch and Joe Fratangelo also had some nice production. Our pick here, though, is guard Jim LeCompte, an anchor of the early 1960s offensive lines. As a senior in 1961, LeCompte earned both first team All-ACC and third team All-American honors and also took home the Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
#64: Jonathan Cooper
This is one of the two numbers that we’ll talk about in this edition of the series that is home to some of the most decorated offensive linemen in program history. Steve Maronic and Ethan Albright made names for themselves at tackle in the jersey, while Craig Funk and Jeff Saturday had nice careers on the interior while donning the number. The fact of the matter is, while all of their careers were extremely productive, Jonathan Cooper, the most recent player in the program’s ring of honor, is our pick here, though. Cooper started 48 games in his Tar Heel career, earning all-conference honors in each of his final three seasons in Chapel Hill and helping produce the Tar Heels first 1,000 yard rusher since 1997. As a senior in 2012, he took home the trifecta for an ACC offensive lineman, earning unanimous first All-ACC, unanimous first team All-American and Jacobs Blocking Trophy honors at the end of the season.
#65: Brian Chacos
The No. 65 might not be home to an All-American or even an All-ACC recipient, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some success here. Garrett Morehead and Henry Bartos are guys who made names for themselves in the jersey, as did Brian Chacos, who is who we’ll go with here. While Chacos never received any postseason honor, he was three-year starter for the team from 2004 through 2006 and was a key part of the offensive line that allowed Ronnie McGill to have the success he did in his time on campus. Chacos was also a star in the classroom, earning All-ACC Academic honors in each of his final three years at Carolina.
#66: Ed Chalupka
There is not a lot of success here, but the pick here was more difficult than some may expect. Buddy Payne won’t be found on any of the program’s top receiver list, his career numbers were great for a receiver of that era. However, our selection here is former guard Ed Chalupka. Chalupka was a three year starter for the Tar Heels, earning postseason recognition in 1969 with first team All-ACC honors and third-team All-American honors from the Associated Press. With him anchoring that 1969 offensive line, the Tar Heels ran for 261.5 yards per game and Don McCauley had his first 1,000 yard season on the ground.
#67: Harris Barton
Another number where they have been some strong names to wear, the No. 67 is home to one of the best offensive linemen in ACC and program history. Dan Stiegman is another Charlie Justice-era offensive lineman that appears on the list and Jack Lineberger had a nice career in the mid-60s. Charlie Heck is probably a step above all of them after a phenomenal four-year career in the jersey over the last few years. Unfortunately for him, Harris Barton spent his historic career in the number and is the easy selection here. Barton was a four-year starter, moving to tackle before the 1984 season and that was a move that resulted in plenty of success in the next three seasons. It all culminated in his senior season, where Barton was voted a unanimous first team All-American and first team All-ACC honors while helping to lead Carolina’s offense to one of it’s best seasons in program history.
#68: Ken Huff
This was the other number that we were talking about could be the most successful number amongst offensive linemen and honestly I don’t think another number can top the names here. Guys like Ron Spruill and Lucas Crowley were very productive in their time on campus while wearing the jersey, but aren’t even in the top tiers of players to don the No. 68. Both James Hurst and Mike Salzano were anchors of their respective offensive line unit and would be shoe in’s if it wasn’t for our choice here. Ken Huff is just a step above the other here, thanks to his three year run at guard. In his time on campus, the Tar Heels saw three different running backs reach the 1,000 yard rushing mark and set multiple school records on the offensive side of the football, including a total yards record in 1974. That 1974 season was a great finish to Huff’s career, as he picked up consensus first team All-American and All-ACC honors and also took the Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
#69: Lowell Dyer
There aren’t great names here, but there are still some productive names here. John Maskas and Herman Snyder had some early success in the jersey, but both were one-year flashes before moving on. Both still had decent cases, but we’ll go with another player that shine in his limited time on the field. Injuries plagued what could have been a huge senior season for Lowell Dyer, but in his time on the field, he was an extremely productive center when he was on the field. In his 20 career starts, Dyer graded out at a 79 or higher and he entered 2009 on the Rimington Award watch list, an amazing feat for a guy who began his career at Carolina as a walk-on.
#70: Phil Blazer
The last number of this edition has only seen 36 players wear it in program history, but it has seen a ton of success. Joe Dudeck, Gene Sigmon and Bud Grissom all had strong careers in the number, but this is a battle that comes down to Hosea Rodgers and Phil Blazer. While Rodgers has a phenomenal case and doesn’t quite get the respect that he should, it just isn’t enough to beat out Blazer here. The mid-50s offensive tackle was the anchor of the Tar Heels 1957 and 1958 offensive lines, earning first team All-ACC honors in both seasons. As a senior in 1958, Blazer helped lead a Tar Heel offense that averaged 319.8 yards of total offense on his way to earning third team All-American honors.