Julius Frazier Peppers (born January 18, 1980) is an American football defensive end for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers second overall in the 2002 NFL Draft. He played college football at North Carolina.
The youngest of three siblings, Peppers was born in Wilson, North Carolina, and raised in nearby Bailey. By the time he was a freshman at Southern Nash Senior High School, Peppers had grown to 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m), 225 lb (102 kg). Ray Davis, the football coach at Southern Nash, felt that Peppers would be an asset on the gridiron for the Firebirds, despite the fact that Peppers had never played football before. Davis' gamble would pay off. During his high school career, Peppers played running back and defensive lineman, finished his career with 3,501 rushing yards and 46 touchdowns, and was one of the most dangerous defensive linemen in the state. He also lettered in basketball and was voted All-Conference as a power forward for four consecutive years. In 1998, Southern Nash won the state championship in track for the first time in the school's history. Peppers contributed as a sprinter, winning the state championship in the 4×200 meter team relay and as a triple jumper. During his senior year (1997-98), he was named to the PARADE All-America team in football as an all-purpose talent and was also named Male Athlete of the Year by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. In 2005, Peppers was named by the Rocky Mount Telegram newspaper as one of the 50 Greatest Athletes from the Nash/Edgecombe (Twin County) area.
Peppers played defensive end for the UNC Tar Heels, where he won the Chuck Bednarik Award for the nation's top defensive player and the Lombardi Award as the best collegiate lineman in 2001. Peppers also won the Bill Willis Trophy as the nation's best defensive lineman. Peppers redshirted his freshman season. In the three following seasons at North Carolina, Peppers started 33 of the 34 games he played in. He is currently ranked second all-time in UNC history with 30.5 sacks. He accumulated 53 stops behind the line of scrimmage, 167 tackles, five interceptions, two fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles, 13 passes deflected, and 43 quarterback pressures (hurries) and returned two interceptions and one fumble recovery for touchdowns.