Top 50 Hokies Spotlight: Carroll Dale
When you’re looking at the North End Zone in Lane Stadium, your eyes are drawn to the towering banners that line the top bleachers. Only ten men in Virginia Tech football history have the distinguished honor of their name being permanently flown on those banners. Legendary Hokies such as Bruce Smith, Michael Vick, and even coaching legends Frank Beamer and Bud Foster. But in the northwest corner is a name and number that many Hokies don’t know, number 84 Carroll Dale. If you’re a Hokie, you need to know who Carroll Dale is.
A winner his whole career, Dale was a 2nd team All-American in 1958 and 1959. He also won the Southern Conference Player of the Year award in 1958. He was a 3-time pro-bowler for the Packers and competed in four super bowls, three with the Packers and one with the Vikings.
"A long strider yet also a smooth, crisp route runner, Carroll Dale was the Packers' big-play receiver when they won three straight NFL championships under Vince Lombardi from 1965 to 1967. During that span, Dale caught 92 passes for 1,996 yards, a 21.7-yard average per catch, and 14 touchdowns. Dale's average per catch for all eight of his seasons in Green Bay was 19.7, still the team record for receivers with 150 receptions or more."
What distinguished Dale from other NFL receivers of his time was his focus on route running. In those days, receivers mostly just ran in straight lines, with one or maybe two cuts at the top of the route. Almost all deep pass plays were off of play-action, so speed was paramount. But with Hall of Fame QB Bart Starr at the helm for the Packers, head coach Vince Lombardi was able to utilize a crisper, more timing based passing game.
This meant Carroll could utilize more double moves early in his routes, which is why he was able to beat the hapless defensive backs downfield in ways that no receiver in the NFL had prior to him.
"He's as fine a route runner as I've ever seen...I think Carroll is deceptive with his speed. Because he runs so smoothly, he eases by a defensive back and the guy hasn't realized he's that fast. He runs beautiful routes ... What I'm saying is that Carroll is a great artist. He's really gorgeous to watch run when he runs a route."
Here’s an interview from March of this year, where Dale talks about his career as a Packer and what it was like playing receiver in the dog days of football.
And then there’s this glorious recap of the 1966 matchup between the Packers and the Chicago Bears. Carroll Dale had both of the Packers’ touchdowns in the 13-6 slugfest win. If this doesn’t get you jacked up for some football, I don’t know what to tell you.
(title image via Virginia Tech Athletics)