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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
Name Years with Panthers
LB Andre Smith 2018-19
S Tre Boston 2014-16, 2019-20
S Da'Norris Searcy 2018
DE Hilee Taylor 2008-09
DE Julius Peppers 2002-09, 2017-18
OL Kevin Donnalley 2001-03
DB Jimmy Hitchcock 2000-01
DT Rick Terry 1998-99
RB Mike Dulaney 1998
RB Natrone Means 1998
LB Carlton Bailey 1995-97
P Tommy Barnhardt 1995

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
Name Years with Panthers
CB Ross Cockrell 2018-19
LB Jeremy Cash 2016-17

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

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