N.C. State Legend Dennis Byrd Passes Away
Courtesy of N.C. State Athletics
July 24, 2010
N.C. - Dennis Byrd, the first two-time All-America in the history
NC State football and the only Wolfpack defensive player to have his
retired, passed away Thursday afternoon at Carolinas Medical Center
Charlotte, his family informed the NC State athletics department. He
Byrd suffered a heart attack on July 15 while
undergoing an unrelated back
surgery and never regained
Recently selected for induction into the National
College Football Hall of Fame, Byrd was one of
the most dominant defensive
tackles in Atlantic Coast Conference
history, earning first-team All-ACC
honors in each of his three years
of varsity competition. The 6-foot-5,
260-pound defensive tackle
helped Coach Earle Edwards and the Wolfpack win a
share of the 1965
ACC championship as a sophomore and was a consensus
both 1966 and '67.
A member of the famed "White Shoes Defense" in
1967, Byrd was the physical
leader of the defense that gave the
Wolfpack its first national acclaim on
the gridiron by beating
third-ranked Houston in the Astrodome and rising to
No. 3 in the
Associated Press poll, the high ranking in school history.
the Wolfpack, with Byrd out of the lineup because of a knee injury,
its final two games in the regular season, to Penn State and Clemson,
earning the school's first post-season bowl victory, a win over
in the 1967 Liberty Bowl.
Byrd was the No. 6 pick of the
American Football League's Boston Patriots in
1968, just the second
first-round draft pick in school history after
Gabriel. But Byrd never fully recovered from the
knee injury he suffered against Duke late in his senior
professional career ended after two seasons.
Byrd maintained his
love of football, spending 30 years as a North Carolina
teacher and high school football coach at both West Lincoln
School in Lincolnton, N.C., and at Northeastern High School in
City, N.C. He retired from teaching and coaching in 2004.
also maintained his affection for NC State.
"All I had ever known
growing up was ACC football, and I wanted to be a part
of it," Byrd
said in a 2007 interview. "There was not much question I was
stay in state, and I wanted to play for NC State. I am not a big
for going out or being part of the night life. I'm not that kind of
am more of a down-to-earth person, and that's what appealed to me about
State. I thought I could play anywhere in the country, but I wanted to
here. I just wanted to play football."
His No. 77 jersey was
retired in 2001. He was inducted into the North
Carolina Sports Hall
of Fame in 2007.
Dennis Wayne Byrd was born on Aug. 31, 1946, in
Pleasant Gardens, N.C. At
the age of 5, his family moved to
Lincolnton, N.C., in search of work in the
textile industry. He
played at Lincolnton High School for coach Von Ray
Harris, along with
future NC State teammate Steve Warren, currently a member
of the NC
State University Board of Trustees.
"Dennis was a dear, dear
friend, and the thoughts and prayers of the NC
State community are
with his family," said senior associate athletics
Horning. "I remember calling him the day we heard about his
to the College Football Hall of Fame. He was so happy and proud.
am so glad that he knew that he had been elected to the hall of fame.
was very deserving."
Byrd is survived by his wife, Kim, and
four children. Funeral arrangements
are incomplete at this time.
Byrd's NC State highlights
. Sophomore starter
NCSU: 6-4 overall, 4-3 ACC, ACC co-champions
. Football Writers All-America (first team), NEA
AA (first team), Associated
Press AA (second team)
overall, 5-2 ACC (2nd)
. First-team All-ACC
Consensus first-team All-America: Associated Press, UPI, Sporting News,
Football Writers Association, Central Press, Time Magazine, Walter Camp
. 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)
overall, 5-1 ACC (2nd)