Heel Tough Blog: Offseason Series- Best to Wear the Number (71-80)
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 71-80 in Tar Heel football history.
#71: Marcus Jones
We begin this edition of the series with a number that has been home to four of the best linemen to man the trenches in program history. Both Brian Bollinger and Jon Heck had very strong careers along the offensive line and Dee Hardsion was the leader of one of the best defenses in program history, but they come up just a bit short of the pick here, Marcus Jones. In each of his final three seasons on campus in Chapel Hill, Jones finished with at least 10.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks, including a huge senior season in 1997. As a leader of one of the most potent defenses in program history, Jones racked up 94 total tackles, 19.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks on the way to consensus first team All-American and All-ACC recognition. He finished his career with 46.0 tackles for loss, a number that is fourth in school history, and 24.0 sacks, a number that is tied for third in school history.
#72: Jason Brown
This was a tough decision because the No. 72 is headlined by three very successful offensive linemen. Curtis Parker was a two-time All-ACC selection in 1992 and 1993 and Kyle Jolly started 38 straight games at left tackle and earned honorable All-ACC mention as a senior, but the selection here is Jason Brown. Brown started 39 games in his career at Carolina, including every game in each of his final three seasons, at center. As a senior, Brown earned first team All-ACC honors as well as All-American honors from Pro Football Weekly. With Brown anchoring the line, the 2004 Tar Heels ran for 150.0+ yards per game in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1995. Not only was Brown a monster on the field, he also still holds several weight room records for the Tar Heels to this day.
#73: Jerry Sain
Both Don Kemper and Brennan Williams are names that deserve a ton of praise for their success in this number, one that hasn’t seen a ton of overall success. However, the easy choice here is former offensive tackle Jerry Sain. Sain combined with Ron Rusnak along the early 70s offensive lines to help the Tar Heels run for an average of 260.3 yards per game in his three seasons on campus. He earned first team All-ACC honors in both 1971 and 1972 and earned second team All-American honors from Football News in 1972 as he was a big part of the team that went 11-1, winning the Sun Bowl over Texas Tech.
#74: Robert Pratt
The No. 74 is nowhere near the most decorated on this team, but there are a few names at the top that are worth noting. Bob Kennedy was another blocking back that had a lot of success in front of Charlie Justice in the late 40s and Jerness Gethers had some nice success along the offensive line for the team in the mid 90s. This is the second consecutive number, though, where we’ll go with a member of those early 70s offensive lines. Robert Pratt was nearly as decorated as Rusnak or Sain, but he was still a key member of the unit in 1971 and ‘72 that became the leader of the group as a senior in 1973, where he earned first team All-ACC honors. While the team struggled that season, Pratt still helped Sammy Johnson rush for over 1,000 yards and the Tar Heels still averaged 225.5 rushing yards per game.
#75: Garrett Reynolds
The No. 75 has seen a lot of successful players in it over the years, making this a very difficult decision. Carl Suntheimer was a strong two-way player for the Tar Heels in the early 1940s, while Byron Thomas, Skip Seagraves and Bentley Spain all had nice stints at offensive tackle that are worth remembering. However, Garrett Reynolds' success is just a tier above everyone else here. Reynolds started the last 26 games of his career at right tackle in his four year career at Carolina, grading out as the team’s top offensive lineman in each of his final two seasons on campus. As a senior in 2008, Reynolds earned second team All-ACC honors while helping the Tar Heel offense average 27.7 points per game on their way to their first eight-win season since 2001.
#76: Kevin Donnalley
The least worn number in this edition of the series, the No. 76 has seen its fair share of success despite only being worn by 35 players total. This was an extremely tough decision because Donnell Thompson, Tim Goad and Kevin Donnalley all have legitimate cases. Goad was a two-time All-ACC member, doesn’t have the All-American track record that both Thompson and Donnalley have. It was a tough decision, but we’ll go with Donnalley by a thin margin because of how much he achieved in just two years on campus. Donnalley came to Carolina in 1990 and was named a captain of that year's team before the season started. At season’s end, he would pick up second-team All-ACC honors and third-team All-American honors, as he helped the Tar Heel offense take a huge step from the 1989 unit that was one of the worst in the country. Although his senior season wasn’t nearly as decorated, he closed his career out in 1991 with another solid season.
#77: Jeb Terry
Jim McCachern and Bobby Hukill both had some nice success in the jersey in the last century, but this is a number that has seen a lot of recent success. Charleston Gray put together a very nice career in the number with three productive seasons as a starter, but his one-time teammate, Jeb Terry, has just a slight edge over him here. Terry started 34 games in his career, including all twelve games of his senior season in 2003. That season, Terry earned second team All-ACC for his efforts as he was one of the lone bright spots on a team that struggled mightily.
#78: Ron Wooten
This was another extremely difficult decision because of the track record this number has at the top. From Art Ditt to Shawn Hocker to Kyle Ralph, there are plenty of guys who had very good careers while donning the jersey, but that won’t nearly be talked about as much as Ron Wooten and Landon Turner will. It took a lot of back and forth, but by an extremely thin margin, we’ll give the edge to Ron Wooten here. Wooten’s career is defined by his huge senior season in 1980, where he helped the Tar Heels produce two 1,000 yard rushers on the way to what, to this day, stands as the team’s last ACC Championship. Wooten was both a first team All-ACC member and first team All-American and also took home the Jacobs Blocking while helping the Tar Heels offense average 270.6 yards per game on the ground.
#79: Steve Junkmann
This number has seen some very solid offensive lineman occupy it over the years. The late Ryan Hoffman had a nice career during the Mack Brown era and Calvin Darity put together a solid career at guard from 2005-08. Our pick here is Steve Junkmann, a three-year starter for the Tar Heels at tackle from 1977-79. In all three of his seasons as a starter, the Tar Heel offense averaged at least 335.0 yards of total offense per game, including 373.4 per game in 1979, a year where Junkmann earned first team All-ACC honors. Junkmann is one of the big reasons that Amos Lawrence was able to rush for over 1,000 yards in all four of his seasons on campus.
#80: Tommy Davis
We close this edition of the series out with a number that has quietly seen a lot of production. 60s wide receivers Charlie Carr and Tony Blanchard were well ahead of their time in the jersey, putting together some very impressive numbers for wide receivers during that time. Arnold Franklin put together a nice career at tight end while occupying the jersey, as well, but our pick here is the late Tommy Davis. In his four-year career at Carolina, Davis never finished a season with less than 30 total tackles, finishing his career with 154 total tackles. Davis led the Tar Heels in tackles for loss as a junior and senior, totaling 7.5 and 10.5 in those two seasons respectively, and also led the team in sacks as a senior with 8.5.