dave canales - el camino college, pete carroll, carolina panthers head coach

Dave Canales: From El Camino to Pete Carroll to Carolina Panthers Head Coach

Dave Canales’ journey to becoming the head coach of the Carolina Panthers is a unique story in the NFL. His coaching career, which started at Carson High School in California, has now reached one of the top positions in professional football.

Starting Out at Carson High School: Canales began his coaching career at Carson High School, the same place he played as a student. Here, he wasn’t just a coach for the young team; he was learning the basics of coaching – how to guide young players and build a team. Did he have dreams of becoming an NFL head coach? Probably. But back then, the path from the high school field to the NFL sidelines must have seemed like a distant, almost unreachable star.

Moving Up to El Camino College: In 2006, Canales took a significant step by joining El Camino College as a coach.  At El Camino, Canales was a tight ends coach and special teams coordinator and eventually the quarterbacks coach. While winning a state championship in 2006 was the pinnacle, NFL owners and general managers weren’t blowing up his phone. But… while at El Camino he met Coach Pete Carroll, the head coach for the USC Trojans.

USC Trojans: Dave Canales was hired by Carroll in 2009. He served as an assistant strength coach for one season. And as the story goes, Carroll left the NCAA for reasons we won’t get into here as this story is about the new Carolina Panthers head coach. Carroll was hired by the Seattle Seahawks in 2010. And now Canales was officially in the NFL as an assistant coach

Seattle Seahawks: Canales would spend 13 seasons with the Seahawks which included winning a Super Bowl in 2014. He held many positions on the offensive staff including wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach, and passing game coordinator. Canales is credited with assisting in the comeback of quarterback Geno Smith, earning him recognition around the league. Smith was NFL Comeback Player of the Year. This became an opportunity for Coach Canales to grab a larger more impactful role.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In early 2023, Dave Canales was hired as the offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Under Todd Bowles. Canales would have his hands full replacing the highly regarded offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. While the Bucs started slow, Canales helped the much-maligned Baker Mayfield resurrect his career and lead Tampa to the playoffs before losing a close game to the Detroit Lions. As he was getting ready for year two as the offensive mind of the Bucs, an owner came calling…

Carolina Panthers: Dreams do come true. While we don’t know how many owners and general managers called Dave Canales to lead their team, it doesn’t matter. All he needed was one. There are 32 NFL head coaching jobs, and Dave Canales is one of them. Speaking of one, his journey has been one thing, one moment, and one connection at a time. Be it Carson High School, Pete Carroll, or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers… it all led to this, Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers. Maybe to some, the dream we’ve projected on Coach Canales seemed out of reach. A head coach in the NFL? Grow up, Peter Pan!

But maybe that wasn’t the dream at all. Maybe the dream was to win the Super Bowl, not as a coach, but as The Head Coach.

Welcome to Charlotte, NC Coach Canales.

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