65 Days to Miami football: Al Carapella Canes first All-American

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 15. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 15. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

Al Carapella was the first All-American in 1951 as a defensive tackle in Miami football history.

Defensive tackle Al Carapella was the first All-American in the history of the Miami football program in 1951 while helping lead the Hurricanes to the Orange Bowl against Clemson. Carapella came to Coral Gables via Tuckahoe, New York. While still in high school, Carapella signed a contract with the New York baseball Giants.

Carapella was declared ineligible to play sports as a senior in high school because of the professional baseball contract. Tryouts with the Kentucky and Miami football programs set up by Carapella’s high school coach eventually led him to sign with the Hurricanes. His offer from the Wildcats was sent to his uncle by mistake.

Carapella was already enrolled at Miami by the time he was alerted to the mistake. Carapella was initially a fullback for Miami. Head coach Andy Gustafson began his legendary tenure in 1948 and moved Carapella to defensive tackle with Miami having a need at the position. Carapella showed signs of greatness early at DT.

After a great senior season, Carapella became the first All-American in the 25-year history of the Miami football program. Carapella also played catcher on the Miami baseball team. Following his legendary Miami athletic career, Carapella was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 1970.

Gustafson went in two years later. The head football coach from 1948-73 and athletic director from 1963-68, Gustafson had a 93-63-3 record in 16 seasons leading the Hurricanes. Gustafson was indicated into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975. Carapella was one of nine Miami All-Americans coached by Gustafson.

Next. 66 Days to Miami football: Brett Romberg OL anchor. dark

Following his career at Miami, Carapella spent five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and one with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League. Al Carapella is the best number 65 in Miami football history.