Our history does not always tell us where we are going. However, remembering our history is almost always good and can be fun. With that said, Daniel Taylor and I have decided that for the month of May we will remember and, to the best we can, detail those players from Memphis who wore jerseys which have since seen their numbers retired. For the next 5 weeks we will release a new article every Friday morning. The plan is to go chronologically, but also throw in one special jersey reference. To start, lets take a look at running back Dave Casinelli.
Dave Casinelli, HB #30, 1960-1963
In 1960 Dave Casinelli was recruited by coach Billy "Spook" Murphy to join a upswing Memphis squad. To date, Memphis had been a decent enough football school but was in a period of slight decline. Casinelli, a standout high school RB from West Virgina, was one of a handful of national targets coach Murphy used to string back together a solid decade in the 60's.
From his freshman year through his senior year Casinelli would only lose 5 games (and 1 tie). The 1963 Casinelli led Tigers would finish the season undefeated, a first for the school in 25 years. The Tigers lone blemish on the 63' schedule was a 0-0 tie against the #3 ranked University of Mississippi Rebels. For more on the 63' team I encourage you to read this fun piece from 2013 on the 63' team's reunion.
Casinelli was known as a fierce runner. Archived clippings referred to him as "the human bowling ball." As a power runner, Casinelli would take no high roads, but simply run through defenders. His objective? The goal line. If you were in his way, you were bowled over. Casinelli ended his career with a stellar senior season which had him atop the NCAA in rushing yards as well as points scored. Throughout his career Casinelli would set school records for rushing and receiving with 2,796 total yards from scrimmage and 36 career touchdowns. These records would stand until around 10 years ago when Deangelo Williams would rewrite the school record books.
After graduation, Casinelli became establishing as a successful businessman. Casinelli worked both in Memphis and Tallahassee Florida. In 1987 Casinelli's life was cut short due to injuries sustained in a car accident.
Be sure to tune in next week as Daniel brings us our next installment of our retired jerseys series.