But ironically, his death on Dec. 14, 1920 -? coming just two weeks after he was selected by Walter Camp as Notre Dame's first All-American ? assured Gipp's place in Notre Dame's history books.
While on his deathbed, Gipp, who had contracted the strep throat while helping the Irish defeat Northwestern late in his senior season. Gipp left his home in Laurium, Mich., in 1916 and headed to Notre Dame with ambitions of playing baseball. But one fall afternoon Rockne spotted Gipp, who had never played football in high school, drop kicking the football 60 and 70 yards just for the fun of it. The persuasive coach, sensing Gipp's natural athletic ability, eventually convinced Gipp to go out for the team. Gipp experienced nothing but success on the gridiron.
A four-year member of the varsity, Gipp proved to be the most versatile player Rockne ever had. He could run, he could pass and he could punt. Still holder of a handful of Notre Dame records in a variety of categories, Gipp led the Irish in rushing and passing each of his last three seasons (1918, 1919 and 1920). His career mark of 2,341 rushing yards lasted more than 50 years until Jerome Heavens broke it in 1978, Gipp did not allow a pass completion in his territory. Walter Camp named him the outstanding college player in America in 1920. Gipp was voted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1951.