Tar Heels hire Hal Hunter as Offensive Line Coach

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Hal Hunter, a veteran offensive assistant coach who was most recently the offensive coordinator at Indiana, has been named North Carolina's offensive line coach, UNC head football coach John Bunting announced on Friday.

"Hal Hunter is the best fit for North Carolina," said Bunting. "He has experience as an offensive coordinator, but his focus has been on the offensive line. Everywhere he's been, his offensive lines have perfomed well in the running and passing games. Last season, Indiana led the Big Ten in rushing, fewest sacks allowed and first downs. Those are some of the qualities I evaluated when deciding to hire Hal. He's a great addition to our staff."

Hunter comes to North Carolina after directing Indiana to two of its most successful offensive seasons ever. Under his guidance, the Hoosiers averaged more than 435 yards per game in each of the last two years and finished in the top 20 in total offense in both seasons.

"I'm tremendously excited about the opportunity to work for the North Carolina football program and be a part of the UNC community," said Hunter. "I was impressed with Coach Bunting, Coach (Gary) Tranquill and the entire staff. People are what make an organization a good place to work and Carolina has great people."

Last year, Hunter designed an offense to fit the skills of talented quarterback Antwaan Randle El, who was named Big Ten Player of the Year and earned first-team All-America honors. Indiana led the Big Ten and finished fourth in the nation in rushing offense (averaging 269.5 yards per game), was 19th in the country in total offense, rushed for 33 touchdowns and allowed just nine sacks in 11 games. The Hoosiers were one of just 11 teams to average more than five yards per carry (5.66) and IU became only the second school in Big Ten history to have two 3,000-yard rushers on the same team (Randle El and Levron Williams). In Big Ten games only, IU was first in rushing offense (301.8 yards per game), first in total offense (464.6), first in sacks against (five), first in rushing touchdowns (27), first in third-down conversions (50 percent) and third in scoring offense (29.9).

The previous season (2000), Hunter's first at IU, the Hoosiers were seventh in the country in rushing offense, averaging 266.4 yards per game, and 12th in the nation in total offense despite starting an entirely new offensive line. Indiana led the Big Ten in rushing offense and finished second nationally in yards per carry (5.8), trailing only Nebraska. Indiana scored 34 rushing touchdowns and averaged over 30.6 points per game, the second-highest total in IU history.

Hunter came to Indiana after a successful stint as the assistant head coach and offensive line coach at LSU from 1995-99. Hunter also served as the interim head coach at LSU for one game in 1999 after the dismissal of Gerry DiNardo. At LSU he developed one of the Southeastern Conference's most dominant offensive lines as the Tigers led the SEC in rushing in both 1997 and 1998. In 1997, he was credited with the development of Outland Trophy finalist Alan Faneca, a two-time All-America selection and 1998 first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers. That same year, LSU's offensive line also featured two-time first-team All-SEC center Todd McClure, a 1999 draft selection of the Atlanta Falcons. In his one game as interim head coach, Hunter led the Tigers to a season-ending 35-10 win over Arkansas. Athlon magazine recognized Hunter as the SEC's top offensive line coach in 1997.

Prior to arriving at LSU, Hunter, 42, served as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt from 1991-94, tutoring the Commordores' tackles and tight ends for three seasons. In 1994, he was placed in charge of the entire offensive line. Vanderbilt ranked second in the SEC in rushing in 1991, 1992 and 1994.

Before heading to Vanderbilt, Hunter spent four seasons as the offensive line and special teams coach at Akron.

Hunter is a 1982 graduate of Nortwestern, where he earned Dean's List honors and graduated in the top 10 percent of his class with a 3.6 GPA. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications studies with a concentration in economics. He lettered at linebacker for the Wildcats in 1978, but a neck injury prematurely ended his career. Hunter stayed with the program and assisted with the defensive line and served as a strength coach.

In 1982, he coached outside linebackers and was the strength coach at William & Mary. Hunter also has coached the offensive line at Pittsburgh (1983-84), Columbia (1985) and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (1986).

Hunter's father, Hal II, has over 40 years of experience in college and professional football. He was an assistant coach with the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. Currently, he works as an area scout for the Carolina Panthers.

Hunter and his wife, Tracy, have two children, Hal IV (12) and Andrew (9).

Quotes on Hal Hunter

Alan Faneca, OG, Pittsburgh Steelers - Played for Hunter at LSU
"He's a great teacher and a great motivator. He knows how to teach at all levels and he has the ability to get players to their next level. He always pushed me. He exepected more of me, he graded me harder and it turned out to be the best thing a coach could do for me. He made me the player that I am today and he got me to the NFL."

Rick Venturi, New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach - Coached Hunter at Northwestern

"He is a terrific coach, a fine person, and what a tremendous asset he will be to the University of North Carolina coaching staff. I've watched him my entire career from the moment he was a player for me at Northwestern. He's smart, he's a motivator and he has experience well beyond his years. He understands the total game, but obviously, his specialty is the offensive line. He became a graduate assistant for me while still in college which is very difficult for a young man to do. But he did it and was an outstanding coach".

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