August 7, 2013

Rookie of the Year: J.C. Caroline, 1956

Defensive Halfback, Chicago Bears



Age: 23
College: Illinois
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 190

Prelude:
Caroline led the nation in rushing with 1256 yards as a sophomore at Illinois, but was declared academically ineligible the next year. He spent 1955 playing for Toronto and Montreal in Canada, where he rushed for 575 yards in 10 games. Eligible for the NFL draft in 1956, he was taken by the Bears in the 7th round and was used on defense until injuries depleted the backfield later in his rookie season.

1956 Season Summary
Appeared in all 12 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Interceptions – 6 [9, tied with Jack Butler, Dicky Moegle & Emlen Tunnell]
Int. return yards – 182 [4, tied with Yale Lary]
Int. TDs – 2 [1]
Fumble recoveries – 1

Rushing
Attempts – 34
Yards – 141
Average gain – 4.1
TDs – 2

Punt Returns
Returns – 2
Yards – 29
Average per return – 14.5
TDs – 0
Longest return – 16 yards

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 2
Yards – 32
Average per return – 16.0
TDs – 0
Longest return – 18 yards

Scoring
TDs – 4
Points – 24

Postseason: 1 G (NFL Championship at New York Giants)
Interceptions – 0
Fumble recoveries – 0

Kickoff returns – 1
Kickoff ret. yds. – 14
Kickoff ret. TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL Rookie of the Year: Sporting News
1st team All-NFL: NY Daily News
Pro Bowl

Bears went 9-2-1 to finish first in the Western Conference. Lost NFL Championship to New York Giants (47-7).

Aftermath:
Caroline continued to be a versatile performer with the Bears over the course of a 10-season career that ended in 1965. He saw action on offense and as a kick returner in 1957 and ’58 but was most effective on defense where he was used at both cornerback and safety. Caroline intercepted a total of 24 passes and scored six touchdowns, three of them on offense.

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Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL (including NFC/AFC), AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year).

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