Ask anyone who knew Carrel Daniel what kind of player he was and the first few words will probably include “fast” and “quick.”
Daniel had a rare combination of size and speed that earned the Athens standout a football scholarship to the University of Alabama. It’s also because of that athletic ability that Daniel will be inducted into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame Saturday.
“He was really good,” remembers Baxter Booth, 2007 HOF inductee. “He was fast and quick. Coach Elmore had come in and this was his second year. That was the beginning of some good teams. His senior year we only lost one game.”
During Daniel’s final two seasons, Athens went 15-3-2. The AHS running back was selected to the 1953 All-Tennessee Valley Conference and All-State teams. Daniel also excelled at track where he finished second in the 100-yard dash at the state track meet.
“He was one of the fastest guys on the team,” said Booth. “He was about 180 pounds, which was pretty good size back then for a running back. He could tackle, block; really do it all. We had some good teams back then and he was a big reason.”
It wasn’t just speed that made Daniel such a force to be reckoned with. Daniel’s sibling Jerry described his older brother.
“He was strong, too. Where most people would run around a tackler, he would run over them.”
Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame board member Martha Jo Leonard remembers watching Daniel play during his early 1950s high school career.
“He was fast. And he was bigger than most other players,” said Leonard, “He was hard to stop. He was stocky and strong.”
Daniel’s athletic ability caught the eye of Alabama head coach Harold Drew. Drew, who coached Alabama from 1947-1954 recruited Daniel to play for the Crimson Tide. Soon after Daniel arrive in Alabama, J.B. “Ears” Whitworth took over for Drew.
Whitworth went 3-18-1 during his three-year stint with the Tide, which saw many players, including Daniel, transfer to other schools. Whitworth was replaced in 1957 by a coach by the name of Paul “Bear” Bryant.
“He was just an all-around good football player,” said Booth, who arrived at Alabama a year after Daniel. “If it had been a better coaching situation (at Alabama), he would have stayed there I’m sure.”
Daniel transferred to Florence State, known today as UNA, in 1955. He played two years at Florence State and was a team captain his senior year.
Daniel graduated with a degree in business and stayed in Florence where he was owner and operator of the famous Dale’s Restaurant for more than 35 years.
One of Daniel’s former teammates at Athens summed up the All-State running back best.
“Not only was he a good player and get a yard every time you needed it, but he was an even better person,” said Dave Martin.