Most Successful NFL Players Who Have Played for North Carolina Tar Heels

April 17th, 2024

Although the North Carolina Tar Heels football program is not one of the biggest in college football, it has still been very successful, producing players who have gone on to have fantastic careers in the professional ranks.

Here is a look at some of the most successful NFL players to have played for the North Carolina Tar Heels in their college careers.

Sam Howell

Quarterback Sam Howell played 37 matches for North Carolina in college football, breaking several records, including the most touchdown passes and passing yards in a single season. He finished his spell with the Tar Heels with over 10,000 passing yards.

Howell was selected in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Washington Commanders. In just his second season with the NFC East team, he was named the starting quarterback. He threw for 3,946 yards and had 21 passing touchdowns.

The former North Carolina QB was traded to the Seattle Seahawks earlier this year where he will be fighting for the starting position in the team during the offseason. Seattle is +3300 to win the Super Bowl next season. Those looking to back Howell’s side should consider using an ESPN bet NC promo code, as you can pick up a $150 bonus with both BetMGM and bet365 from just a $5 bet.

Mitch Trubisky

Current NFL QB Mitch Trubisky spent four years with the North Carolina Tar Heels between 2013 and 2016. His biggest year came in his final season in college football, as he recorded 30 passing touchdowns and had 3,748 passing yards. What Trubisky achieved in his final year in North Carolina was enough to convince the Chicago Bears to move up the board to draft him as the second overall pick in 2017. It looked as though the NFC North team had selected well, as he led them to playoffs in 2018, following an 11-3 record in the regular season.

Unfortunately for Trubisky, things didn’t work out for him in Chicago following that excellent second season. He played six games for the Buffalo Bills in 2021, while he spent two years on the roster of the Pittsburgh Steelers between 2022 and 2023.

Trubisky has rejoined the Bills where he will be the backup to Josh Allen in 2024. The 29-year-old will be hoping to get another chance to shine in the NFL and prove he can still deliver like he did as a Pro Bowler in 2018.

Lawrence Taylor

Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor is widely considered the greatest defensive player in the history of the NFL. He played college football for North Carolina between 1977 and 1980, before being selected as the second overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft.

Taylor spent his whole NFL career with the New York Giants, winning two Super Bowl crowns. He was named the league’s MVP in 1986, a rare feat for a defensive player. The linebacker also won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in his rookie season. Something that has not been replicated since. The former Tar Heels great ended his NFL career with over 1,000 tackles. He is one of the best NFL players in history and everybody at North Carolina is proud of what he went on to achieve as a professional.

Julius Peppers

Defensive end Julius Peppers was named a unanimous All-American whilst playing for North Carolina in 2001. That was his final year in college football before he was drafted by the Carolina Panthers as the second overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.

Peppers won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in his opening season in the professional league after recording 12 sacks and five forced fumbles. He later went on to feature for the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

The nine-time Pro Bowler is the only Carolina Panthers played inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is one of the best defensive ends in the history of college and professional football.

Chris Hanburger

Five-time First-team All-Pro Chris Hanburger featured in various positions for the Tar Heels during his college football spell. He was a versatile player who won the Gator Bowl with North Carolina in 1963.

Hanburger played all his professional career with Washington as a linebacker. He lined up in the Pro Bowl nine times, the most by any player in the franchise’s history. He is now in the Commanders’ Ring of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The former Tar Heels player was elected into the latter in 2011.

North Carolina will be back in action in the 2024 ACC conference football season in early September. Their latest batch of players will be hoping to replicate some of the success that the Tar Heels’ greats have had in the sport.

Follow us on Twitter: