Al Carmichael, USC’s rushing leader in 1950 who scored the only touchdown in the Trojans’ 1953 Rose Bowl victory and then went on to score the first touchdown in American Football League history and also set an NFL kickoff return record, died Saturday in Palm Desert. He was 90.
Carmichael, nicknamed “Hoagy,” caught a 22-yard touchdown pass leading to the only points in USC’s 7-0 victory over Wisconsin in the 1953 Rose Bowl. The win gave the Pacific Coast Conference its first victory over the Big Ten since the Rose Bowl began its exclusive agreement in 1947 pairing the champions of both leagues.
He was a three-year (1950-51-52) letterman at halfback for USC. He led the Trojans in rushing as a 1950 sophomore with 514 yards and in kickoff returns as a 1952 senior. He caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter in a 14-12 win over UCLA in 1952. In his USC career, he ran for 1,042 yards.
Before coming to USC, he starred at Gardena High School and then played for the El Toro Marines and Santa Ana Junior College, where he rushed for 1,110 yards with 19 touchdowns to earn Little All-American honors and was on a Junior Rose Bowl squad.
Al Carmichael: Kickoff return record holder, first AFL touchdown
Carmichael was a first round pick (seventh overall selection) of the Green Bay Packers in the 1953 NFL Draft and played halfback, flanker and returner with the Packers for six years (1953-58). His 106-yard kickoff return against the Chicago Bears in 1956 stood as an NFL record until 2007. He led the NFL in kickoff return yardage in 1956 and 1957.
He then joined the Denver Broncos in the newly formed AFL, playing there in 1960 and 1961. He scored the AFL’s first touchdown on a 59-yard reception against the Boston Patriots in 1960.
In his eight-year pro career, he returned 191 kickoffs for 4,798 yards (25.1 average) with two touchdowns and 122 punts for 912 yards (7.5 average), and he also caught 112 pass for 1,633 yards (14.6 average) with 8 touchdowns and ran for 947 yards on 222 carries (4.3 average) with four touchdowns.
He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers, Santa Ana College, National Junior College, All-Services and Orange County Sports halls of fame.
During his playing days, he also was a stuntman and extra actor in more than 50 movies, including Jim Thorpe All-American, Saturday’s Hero, Pork Chop Hill, Spartacus, Elmer Gantry, Birdman of Alcatraz and How The West Was Won, plus TV shows like Rawhide.
After football, he worked in the pool cleaning and automobile sales businesses, then sold real estate.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara; daughters Pam and Stacy from his late wife, Jan; stepsons, Darin and Bruce Durkee; and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, Chris.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 28 at Shadow Rock Church in La Quinta.