Pitt greats Matt Cavanaugh and Craig “Ironhead” Heyward are representing the Panthers on the National Football Foundation 2021 College Football Hall of Fame Ballot.
The ballot, released on Tuesday, contains 78 players and seven coaches from the FBS ranks and 99 players and 33 coaches from lower divisions.
The ballot was sent to the over 12,000 members of the National Football Foundation and current Hall of Fmaers, who vote on induction. The 2021 class will be announced in January.
It’s the third consecutive year that Cavanaugh and Heyward have been on the ballot together.
Cavanaugh, 63, was the starting quarterback for Pitt’s undefeated national championship squad in 1976 and was MVP of the 1977 Sugar Bowl. He was a 1977 All-American and finished with 3,378 career passing yards.
He was a second round pick by the New England Patriots in 1978 and played in the NFL for 15 seasons. Since then, he’s become a notable offensive coach. He’s served at his alma mater twice, as tight ends coach from 1992 to 1993 and as offensive coordinator from 2005 to 2008. He also worked for the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets and Washington Redskins in the NFL, most recently serving as senior offensive assistant for Washington in 2019.
Heyward was a powerful running back and fullback that racked up over 3,000 yards in three seasons with the Panthers from 1985 to 1987. In his junior season, he had 1,791 yards and 12 touchdowns while earning All-American status. His powerful running style made him a popular player and also a sought-after athlete at the next level.
He was drafted in the first round by the New Orleans Saints and had 4,301 yards and 30 touchdowns in his 11-year pro career. Heyward’s career was shortened by a tumor, the recurrence of which took his life at age 39 in 2006. Heyward’s son, Cameron, is a defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pitt has 19 players in the College Football Hall of Fame. The last Panthers player to be inducted was Ruben Brown in 2015. Pitt coaches Len Casanova, Clark Shaughnessy, Jock Sutherland and Pop Warner have also been immortalized.