Tar Heel Lettermen everywhere extend their best wishes and prayers to former quarterbacking great Danny Talbott, who's undergoing out-patient treatment at the Lineberger Cancer Center in Chapel Hill.
Talbott came to Carolina in 1963 after having starred on football, basketball and baseball teams at Rocky Mount Senior High. He lead the Blackbirds to state titles in all three sports in his senior year, 1962-63.
He joined coach Jim Hickey's teams and started from 1964-66. Though the Tar Heels posted a below-.500 won-loss record over those seasons, they beat Michigan State at home, Ohio State on the road and Michigan on the road.
"Those games were sure a lot of fun," Talbott says. "It was very exciting to beat those teams, particularly when we struggled against some teams in the ACC. We just seemed to rise to the occasion for those games. It's a great thrill to think back on going to a place like Michigan and turning a crowd of 88,000 into total silence."
Carolina staged one of its best defensive performances ever in 1965 as it stopped Ohio State on the Tar Heels' side of midfield six times-at the nine, 14, 15, 27, 29 and 41 yard-lines. Talbott scored on a short run on Carolina's first possession, and halfback Max Chapman squirted one 48 yards at the end of the game to account for the Tar Heels' scoring in a 14-3 win.
Michigan was ranked seventh nationally in 1966 when the Tar Heels ventured into Ann Arbor the third week of the season and stunned the maize-and-blue masses with a 21-7 shocker as they converted fumble recoveries at the Wolverine 14 and 24 yard-lines. Carolina's defense again was stout, holding Michigan to three yards rushing in the second half
"It's an interesting question-why did we play those big-name teams so well and then not beat others in the ACC?" muses Talbott. "I know it wasn't because coach Hickey put any more emphasis on those games. He did not. He felt every game was of equal importance. We just seemed to find a little something extra for those games. And I think there was probably a lack of respect issue there as well from our opponents--they didn't know what they were getting into."
Talbott was mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate entering the 1966 season, but he suffered a badly sprained ankle at Notre Dame and was never full speed the rest of his senior year.
"If Danny had had a supporting cast, there's no telling what he'd have done," says Marion Barnes, a Tar Heel letterman in 1966 and fellow product of Rocky Mount Senior High. "He could have won the Heisman Trophy. He could play in the big-time. But he was always hurt. He never had any protection. He had a lack of support on both sides of the ball. We might have had one or two good players, but not enough of them."