N.C. State Legend Dennis Byrd Passes Away

BY foxsports • July 25, 2010

Courtesy of N.C. State Athletics

July 24, 2010

RALEIGH,
N.C. - Dennis Byrd, the first two-time All-America in the history
of
NC State football and the only Wolfpack defensive player to have his
jersey
retired, passed away Thursday afternoon at Carolinas Medical Center
in
Charlotte, his family informed the NC State athletics department. He
was
63.

Byrd suffered a heart attack on July 15 while
undergoing an unrelated back
surgery and never regained
consciousness.

Recently selected for induction into the National
Football Foundation's
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
All-America in
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.
However,
the Wolfpack, with Byrd out of the lineup because of a knee injury,
lost
its final two games in the regular season, to Penn State and Clemson,
before
earning the school's first post-season bowl victory, a win over
Georgia
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
quarterback Roman
Gabriel. But Byrd never fully recovered from the
after-the-whistle
knee injury he suffered against Duke late in his senior
season. His
professional career ended after two seasons.

Byrd maintained his
love of football, spending 30 years as a North Carolina
public school
teacher and high school football coach at both West Lincoln
High
School in Lincolnton, N.C., and at Northeastern High School in
Elizabeth
City, N.C. He retired from teaching and coaching in 2004.

He
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
going to
stay in state, and I wanted to play for NC State. I am not a big
person
for going out or being part of the night life. I'm not that kind of
person.

"I
am more of a down-to-earth person, and that's what appealed to me about
NC
State. I thought I could play anywhere in the country, but I wanted to
stay
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
director David
Horning. "I remember calling him the day we heard about his
election
to the College Football Hall of Fame. He was so happy and proud.

"I
am so glad that he knew that he had been elected to the hall of fame.
He
was very deserving."

Byrd is survived by his wife, Kim, and
four children. Funeral arrangements
are incomplete at this time.

Dennis
Byrd's NC State highlights

1965
. Sophomore starter
.
First-team All-ACC
NCSU: 6-4 overall, 4-3 ACC, ACC co-champions

1966
.
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)

1967
. 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)


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