Panthers connections to North Carolina-Duke Final Four contest

Julius Peppers

CHARLOTTE - The state of North Carolina is on the edge of its seat Saturday as Duke and North Carolina face off in a storybook Final Four matchup.

This season is the last for Hall of Fame Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, while North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis has led North Carolina on a dramatic run through the tournament as an eight seed.

The Blue Devils and Tar Heels have a nearly even record over the last 40 years and have never met in the NCAA Tournament, let alone the Final Four.

The majority of Panthers fans have a rooting interest tonight, either for OR against one of the teams, as do a number of former Panthers players.

Julius Peppers is the most notable alum of either school as he played football and basketball at North Carolina and was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Peppers owns the Panthers record for most career sacks (97.0) and remains the only person to ever play in both a Super Bowl (2003) and a Final Four game (2000).

Julius Peppers

In all, 12 former Tar Heel football players have gone on to see game action for the Panthers.

Table inside Article
NameYears with Panthers
LB Andre Smith2018-19
S Tre Boston2014-16, 2019-20
S Da'Norris Searcy2018
DE Hilee Taylor2008-09
DE Julius Peppers2002-09, 2017-18
OL Kevin Donnalley2001-03
DB Jimmy Hitchcock2000-01
DT Rick Terry1998-99
RB Mike Dulaney1998
RB Natrone Means1998
LB Carlton Bailey1995-97
P Tommy Barnhardt1995

Only two former Duke football players have seen action with the Panthers, with Charlotte native Ross Cockrell leading the list.

Ross Cockrell
Table inside Article
NameYears with Panthers
CB Ross Cockrell2018-19
LB Jeremy Cash2016-17

And just in case you need cheering persuasion from all-time rushing leader and native west coaster Jonathan Stewart...

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