CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Former North Carolina defensive back Dre' Bly is one of 14 members of the 2014 College Football Hall of Fame class, which was announced Thursday by the National Football Foundation.
Bly will become the sixth player or coach from UNC, and first player since Don McCauley in 2001, to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame at the induction ceremony in December.
"This is a tremendous honor and I'm thrilled to represent the University of North Carolina in the College Football Hall of Fame," said Bly. "It's a dream come true that hasn't really sunk in yet. I was fortunate to play with a great group of guys in Chapel Hill who pushed me every day to become a better player. We had one of the best defenses in the country with future NFL players all over the field. I wouldn't be accepting this honor without them and the great coaching staff under the leadership of Mack Brown."
The inductees were selected from the national ballot of 75 All-America players and six elite coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and the 87 players and 26 coaches from the divisional ranks.
Bly had a brilliant career in Chapel Hill from 1996-98, helping lead the Tar Heels to back-to-back Top 10 finishes and three consecutive bowl victories. The Chesapeake, Va., native remains the only player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to earn first-team All-America honors in his first three seasons.
In 1996, Bly became the first freshman defensive player in college football history to earn consensus first-team All-America honors. That season, the Tar Heels went 10-2, beat West Virginia in the Gator Bowl and finished No. 10 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Bly led the nation as a freshman with 11 interceptions in the regular season and added two more pass thefts in the bowl game. He was named first-team All-America by the Associated Press, The Sporting News, the Football Writers and the Walter Camp Foundation.
When Bly repeated consensus honors in 1997, he became the first two-time consensus All-America in UNC football history. Carolina claimed an 11-1 record and a No. 4 ranking in the coaches poll and No. 6 ranking by the AP. Bly was part of a Carolina defense that finished among the top five in all major categories, including pass defense, run defense and total defense.
In 1998, Bly was named first-team All-America by the Walter Camp Foundation and set the ACC career record for interceptions with 20, a record that stood until 2012.
The St. Louis Rams selected Bly in the second round (41st overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft. He played 11 seasons in the NFL and had 43 career interceptions, returning five for touchdowns. He was a rookie on the Rams' Super Bowl winning team in 1999. Bly also played for Detroit, Denver and San Francisco and was twice named to the Pro Bowl.
Bly joins McCauley, Charlie Justice and Art Weiner as the only players in the College Football Hall of Fame that played exclusively at UNC. Hunter Carpenter (1904) and Barney Poole (1943) played one season at UNC and are also in the Hall of Fame. UNC coaches Carl Snavely and Jim Tatum are also in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Bly lives in Charlotte where he runs a youth football and baseball organization. He and his wife, Kristyn (UNC '00), have four sons, Trey (13), Jordan (11), Aaron (10), Manny (5) and a daughter, Peyton (7).
Bly is joined in the 2014 class by former college players Tony Boselli (Southern California, 1991-94), Dave Butz (Purdue, 1970-72), Shane Conlan (Penn State, 1983-86), Joe Hamilton (Georgia Tech, 1996-99), John Huard (Maine, 1964-66), Darrin Nelson (Stanford, 1977-78, 1980-81), Willie Roaf (Louisiana Tech, 1990-92), John Sciarra (UCLA, 1972-75), Sterling Sharpe (South Carolina, 1983, 1985-87), Leonard Smith (McNeese State, 1979-82), Derrick Thomas (Alabama, 1985-88), LaDainian Tomlinson (TCU, 1997-00), Wesley Walls (Mississippi, 1985-88). Coaches announced as part of the class are Mike Bellotti (Chico State, 1984-88; Oregon, 1995-2008) and Jerry Moore (North Texas, 1979-80; Texas Tech, 1981-85; Appalachian State, 1989-2012).