RALEIGH, N.C. – Former Wolfpack All-American Dennis Byrd was chosen from a national ballot of 77 candidates and a pool of hundreds of eligible nominees for induction into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame, it was announced today. The 2010 College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Class will be inducted at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner on December 7, 2010, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and will be officially enshrined in 2011.
Byrd, the first player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named a three-time All-ACC selection, is the fifth NC State player to enter “College Football’s Ultimate Shrine,” joining Jack McDowell, Roman Gabriel, Jim Ritcher and Jim Donnan. Former Wolfpack head coaches Buck “The Silver Fox” Shaw and Lou Holtz are also enshrined..
|NC State's Inductees |
|Name ||Pos. ||Inducted || |
|Buck Shaw ||Coach ||1972 || |
|Jack McDowall ||HB ||1975 || |
|Roman Gabriel ||QB ||1989 || |
|Jim Ritcher ||C ||1998 || |
|Lou Holtz ||Coach ||2008 || |
|Jim Donnan ||QB/Coach ||2009 || |
|Dennis Byrd ||DE ||2010 || |
“Dennis Byrd is part of a proud football legacy at NC State and we congratulate him on this well-deserved honor,” said Wolfpack head coach Tom O’Brien. “He has already been recognized as one of the all-time greats at NC State and in the ACC and now will join an elite group of the best players in college football history.”
A defensive tackle under coach Earle Edwards from 1964-67, Byrd was twice named a First Team All-American and was the first NC State player ever to garner consensus All-America honors. As a member of the famed “White Shoes” defense, he led the Pack to a share of the 1965 ACC title en route to earning the school’s first-ever post-season win, as the Pack defeated Georgia in the 1967 Liberty Bowl.
Drafted as the sixth overall pick in the 1968 NFL Draft, Byrd played only two seasons with the Boston Patriots due to a nagging knee injury sustained in the latter part of his senior season at NC State. He then embarked on a 30-year teaching and coaching career at the high school level and retired in 2001.
Byrd, a native of Lincolnton, was named an ACC Football Legend and inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. He is also the only defensive player to have his jersey retired at NC State. Byrd has four children and he and his wife Kimberly reside in Elizabeth City, N.C.
“Dennis made his mark on the game as a terrific defensive performer,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “He joins an incredible list of National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame honorees and continues to represent the ACC at the highest level.”2010 COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS
• DENNIS BYRD – DT, NX State (1964-67)
• RONNIE CAVENESS – C, Arkansas (1962-64)
• RAY CHILDRESS – DL, Texas A&M (1981-84)
• RANDY CROSS – OG, UCLA (1973-75)
• SAM CUNNINGHAM – RB, Southern California (1970-72)
• MARK HERRMANN – QB, Purdue (1977-80)
• CLARKSTON HINES – WR, Duke (1986-89)
• DESMOND HOWARD – WR, Michigan (1989-91)
• CHET MOELLER – DB, Navy (1973-75)
• JERRY STOVALL – HB, LSU (1960-62)
• PAT TILLMAN* – LB, Arizona State (1994-97)
• ALFRED WILLIAMS – LB, Colorado (1987-90)* Deceased
• BARRY ALVAREZ – 118-73-4 (.615) – Wisconsin (1990-2005)
• GENE STALLINGS – 89-70-1 (.559) – Texas A&M (1965-71), Alabama (1990-96)
This article about Dennis Byrd originally appeared in ‘The Wolfpacker’ (copyright, 2007). It is reprinted here with permission from Comab Publishing Co. It was written by Carter Cheves.
The number 77 was officially retired from the NC State allotment of football jerseys Nov. 23, 2002. No Wolfpack player will ever wear the number again, and that’s the way it should be, because no player could ever fit.
It’s been 40 years since No. 77 Dennis Byrd threw aside blockers with ease, stopped running backs in their tracks and forced quarterbacks to run for their lives. Byrd was, and will forever be, the standard by which all Wolfpack defensive linemen will be measured.
To measure up to Dennis Byrd will take one great football player. Byrd was a 6-4, 265-pound mountain of a man in the mid-1960s. He was a dominating presence, competing on the defensive front for the State varsity from 1965-67.
Byrd was NC State’s first consensus All-American, earning those accolades following his senior season. He was also the first three-time All-ACC player in league history. In 2003, he was selected to the ACC 50th Anniversary Football Team.
Simply put, Byrd was not only one of the best football players in NC State and ACC history, but one of the best ever in collegiate football.
Wolfpack head coach Earle Edwards and assistant coach Carey Brewbaker convinced Byrd to come to State in the fall of 1964. His other potential suitors had been Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech and Notre Dame’s Ara Parseghian. Byrd had been a two-time all-state player at Lincolnton High School, playing for coach Von Ray Harris. He was a standout in the 1964 N.C. East-West All-Star Game.
“I’m so glad I picked NC State,” Byrd said. “It was the right place, and the right time for me. We had a real cast of characters at State during my years there. It was a great experience. We were a very close-knit team.
“I’m proud to say I’m an NC State graduate. I can tell you this, it was hard. There were no free rides for anybody.”
Coaches relish when a player like Byrd comes along. It’s a rare treat to coach that kind of talent. Both Edwards and Brewbaker knew they had someone special in Byrd.
“Dennis Byrd is as good a defensive tackle as there is in the nation,” Edwards said in 1966. “He has unlimited potential and he has played outstanding football for NC State. I said when he came here he had as much potential as any lineman we’ve ever had. And he has lived up to our expectations. There’s no doubt that he is one of the exceptional ones.”
“Big Dennis is the best tackle I’ve coached in my 31 years of line coaching. And I had three All-Americans at Notre Dame,” NCSU line coach Brewbaker said in 1967. “There are several reasons why he stands out above the rest. He is great at breaking double teams, and rushing the passer; he’s strong, quick, agile, and above all will hit. There are no better defensive linemen around in this area and this goes way beyond the ACC.”
Edwards always knew the right buttons to push to get maximum effort out of his players. He did it in many ways. He pushed Byrd’s button before State’s game at Maryland in ’67. An excerpt from Touchdown Wolfpack, a history of NC State football by Doug Herakovich, describes the scenario perfectly:
Midway through the 1967 campaign the Pack was preparing to play at Maryland. Terrapin lineman Tom Mylinski made a little mistake when he told reporters he could handle Byrd one-on-one. When Mylinski’s appraisal reached the Wolfpack camp, Byrd took some good-natured needling from his teammates. Then NCSU head coach Earle Edwards added fuel to the fire in his pre-game locker room talk, noting “It’s important that we get to their quarterback, and since Mylinski is going to take care of Byrd, we’ve got to get some help from the rest of you.”
Byrd went out and dominated Mylinski and the Terps as State rolled to a 31-9 victory.
“Old Dennis got stirred up for this one,” laughed Edwards in ’67.
“Dennis Byrd played the best game of his career against Maryland,” said Brewbaker. “He put on a great pass rush and was all over the place harassing Maryland. The time he pushed aside two blockers, backing them into the quarterback, and then stole the ball from the quarterback all in one motion, was one of the finest defensive plays I’ve seen in 31 years of football.”
Byrd graduated from State in 1968 with a B.S. degree in forestry. Shortly after graduation, he was selected in the first round of the AFL Draft by the Boston Patriots with the sixth pick overall. At the time, the Pats were coached by Lou Saban, and played their games in Fenway Park and Boston College’s Alumni Field. Byrd’s pro career was short-lived due to knee injuries he had suffered at State. He was only able to play with Boston for a year and half before his knees gave way.
Byrd returned to North Carolina from Boston, where he took a job teaching science and coaching at Wake Forest-Rolesville High School. He remained there three years before moving back to his hometown Lincolnton to help care for his sick father. He became the head football coach at West Lincoln High School, and taught science at the 2-A school.
After more than a dozen years in Lincolnton, Byrd needed a change of scenery, choosing a move to the North Carolina coast to satisfy a craving for bird hunting and fishing. He moved to the northeastern part of North Carolina, settling in Elizabeth City. He was a science teacher and coach at Northeastern High School for close to 15 years.
Byrd retired in 2000 with 30 years in the North Carolina public school system. According to him, he’s now a “house husband,” and hunter and fisherman, preferring geese and sea mullet. He spends a month each year at a cabin he owns in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Byrd is married to the former Kim Wilson of Hickory, N.C. The couple met when Byrd broke his hand after a football loss. Wilson was the X-ray technician at the hospital. They have two children — son Kyle and daughter Gennis.
Byrd also has two grown sons from a first marriage. David played linebacker and offensive line at Wofford, and Paul is an NC State grad.
Dennis Byrd’s Career Highlights
• Sophomore starter
• First-team All-ACC
NCSU: 6-4 overall, 4-3 ACC, ACC co-champions
• First-team All-ACC
• Football Writers All-America (first team), NEA AA (first team), Associated Press AA (second team)
NCSU: 5-5 overall, 5-2 ACC (2nd)
• First-team All-ACC
• Consensus first-team All-America: Associated Press, UPI, Sporting News, NEA, Football Writers Association, Central Press, Time Magazine, Walter Camp Foundation, Playboy
• Selected for four postseason all-star games: East-West Shrine Game (San Francisco), Senior Bowl (Mobile, Ala.), Coaches All-America Bowl, College All-Star Game (Chicago)
NCSU: 9-2 overall, 5-1 ACC (2nd)
* Wolfpack rose to as high as No. 3 in the country (highest ranking ever).