Everett Strupper

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Everett Strupper
Everett Strupper.jpg
Date of birth: July 26, 1896
Place of birth: Columbus, Georgia
Date of death: February 4, 1950(1950-02-04) (aged 53)
Place of death: Atlanta, Georgia
Career information
Position(s): HB
College: Georgia Tech
Organizations

George Everett "Stroop" Strupper, Jr. (July 26, 1896 – February 4, 1950) was an All-American football player. He played halfback for Georgia Tech from 1915 to 1917. Strupper overcame deafness resulting from a childhood illness and was selected as an All-American in 1917. During Strupper's three years playing for Georgia Tech, the team compiled a record of 24-0-2 and outscored its opponents by a combined score of 1,135 to 61. In Georgia Tech's record-setting 220-0 win over Cumberland College in 1916, Strupper scored eight touchdowns. Strupper was posthumously elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1972 and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1974.

Football career[edit]

Strupper was a native of Columbus, Georgia and attended Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Georgia before enrolling at Georgia Tech.[1] Strupper played halfback for Georgia Tech football teams under head coach John Heisman from 1915 to 1917. Strupper was deaf, and because of his deafness, he called the signals instead of the team’s quarterback.[1] Strupper was a small man, with his height being stated in varying accounts to be between five-feet seven inches and five-feet, ten inches.[1][2] His coach John Heisman later wrote that Strupper was "but 5 feet 7 inches in height, weighed only 148 pounds stripped."[3] He was sometimes known as "little Everett Strupper."[1]

Georgia Tech never lost a game in which Strupper played, compiling three consecutive undefeated seasons from 1915 to 1917. During Strupper's three years playing for Georgia Tech, the team compiled a record of 24-0-2.[4] Only two teams managed a tie – the University of Georgia in 1915 and Washington & Lee in 1916. In those 26 games, Georgia Tech outscored its opponents by a combined score of 1,135 to 61.[4]

Georgia Tech coach John Heisman later described Strupper as follows:

”Everett Strupper was a small package of condensed lightning when you turned him loose in an open field with a ball you wanted delivered somewhere in the neighborhood of the enemy's goal line. He was small, but he was put together like a high-powered motor. His arms and legs did just what his mind told them to do, and, believe me, his mind worked faster than Ty Cobb's when he's running the bases. Dodging and twisting, stiff-arming and hipping, he'd run the gauntlet of men big enough, you'd think, to pick him up and spank him, and most of the time, too, he'd get away from them, try as hard as they would.”[3]

Heisman recalled that, when Strupper first arrived from Riverside Military Academy, Heisman could not imagine Strupper playing on the football team: “Too light for the line, I didn't see how he could play in the backfield, because he wouldn't be able to get the signals. He could have played quarterback fine, but his enunciation wasn't clear enough for him to call the plays.”[3] Heisman recalled how Strupper overcame the obstacle posed by his deafness: “He couldn't hear anything but a regular shout. But he could read your lips like a flash. No lad that ever stepped on a football field had keener eyes than Everett had. The enemy found this out the minute he began looking for openings through which to run the ball.”[3] Strupper was selected as an all-Southern player in both 1915 and 1916.[4]

1915[edit]

In his freshman year, Strupper proved to be an all-around athlete. As Heisman told it, Strupper "was a star baseball player, a crack at basketball and the best sprint man we had in the school."[3] Heisman recalled that, despite his small stature, Strupper had a powerful body: "Stripped down in the dressing rooms Everett was a sight to behold. There never was a better set up lad than he; he was a regular Apollo, beautifully muscled and built and coordinating rhythmically in every movement."[3]

When Strupper tried out for the team, he noticed that the quarterback would shout the signals every time Strupper was to carry the ball. Realizing the loud signals would be a tip-off to the opposition, Strupper told Heisman, "Coach, those loud signals are absolutely unnecessary. You see when sickness in my kid days brought on this deafness my folks gave me the best instructors obtainable to teach me lip-reading."[3]

Also, during his freshman year, Strupper became a member of the Georgia Phi chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.[5]

1916[edit]

In 1916, Strupper led Georgia Tech to a 220-0 victory over Cumberland College in "the most lopsided game in football history."[4][6] The score (compiled on 32 touchdowns and 30 extra points) broke the old record of a 153-0 set by the University of Michigan in 1912. Strupper scored eight touchdowns in the game, six rushing and two on punt returns.[7] One historic account of the 1916 Cumberland game described Strupper as the "lord high executioner":

"There were many executioners that crisp early-fall Saturday. Halfback G.E. Strupper scored from 20 yards out on Tech's first offensive play and went on to be lord high executioner with eight touchdowns and a conversion for a total of 49 points."[6]

In the first quarter alone, Strupper scored four touchdowns on runs of 20, 10, 60, and 45 yards.[6] Strupper chose to allow others to share in the scoring. With a 42-0 lead midway through the first quarter, Strupper broke clear and could have scored easily, but he intentionally grounded the ball at the one-yard line to allow Georgia Tech tackle J. Cantey Alexander to score the first touchdown of his career.[8] A teammate later recalled the play as follows:

"Strupper swapped positions with Alexander ... The team didn't want to make it too easy for Cantey, though. The other boys wouldn't block for him or help in any way. As soon as the ball was snapped, they ran away from the line and out of the. play completely. Leaving poor Cantey to go it alone. Finally, on fourth down, a bruised' and weary Alexander managed to get the ball across while his teammates howled with laughter."[8]

As the score became increasingly lopsided, Strupper was pulled from the game, and substitute halfback Jim Fellers also scored five touchdowns and an extra point.[6] The game was eventually halted after just 44 minutes of play.[4]

1917[edit]

Strupper also played on the 1917 team that defeated the University of Pennsylvania, then one of the Eastern powers, 41-0.[9] In a 98-0 win over the Carlisle Indians in 1917, Strupper drew praise for his performance. The Atlanta Journal wrote:

"Everett Strupper played like a veritable demon. At one time four Carlisle men pounced on him from all directions, and yet through some superhuman witchery he broke loose and dashed 10 yards further. On another occasion he attempted a wide end run, found that he was completely blocked, then suddenly whirled and ran the other way, gaining something like 25 yards before he was downed."[10]

Strupper scored five touchdowns against Carlisle, including a 32-yard fumble return for a touchdown.[10] And in a 68-7 win over rival Auburn, Strupper had a 65-yard touchdown run that drew the following praise from the Atlanta Journal:

"It was not the length of the run that featured it was the brilliance of it. After getting through the first line, Stroop was tackled squarely by two secondary men, and yet he squirmed and jerked loosed from them, only to face the safety man and another Tiger, coming at him from different angles. Without checking his speed Everett knifed the two men completely, running between them and dashing on to a touchdown."[10]

Post 1917[edit]

After the 1917 season, Strupper was picked on a sports writers' consensus All-America Team.[1] Strupper was also selected by his teammates to be the captain of the Georgia Tech football team in 1918, a year that would have been his senior season. However, Strupper entered the military after the 1917 football season and did not return to Georgia Tech for his senior year.[10]

After returning from the war, Strupper went into the automobile business and later the insurance business.[1] He went on to become the president of the Piedmont Life insurance Co.[citation needed]

Death and legacy[edit]

In 1950, he died from thrombosis at his home in an Atlanta, Georgia hotel.[1] He was age 57 at the time of his death.[9] He was survived by his wife and a daughter, Gwyneth Oliver.[1]

Strupper is thought to be the person who came up with the Red Elephant mascot for the University of Alabama in an article he wrote for the Atlanta Journal.[11] Strupper was posthumously elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1972 and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1974.[4][12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Ex-Tech Great Dies Suddenly: Everett Strupper, Member of Unbeaten Teams, Passes in Atlanta". The Anniston Star (AP wire story). 1950-02-05. 
  2. ^ "Rank Southerner Above Many Brilliant Grid Men". Galveston Daily News. 1917-11-11. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g John Heisman (1923-11-09). "Heisman Tells Inside Story of Strupper's Play". Atlanta Constitution. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Everett "Strup" Strupper". College Football Hall of Fame. 
  5. ^ Georgia School of Technology "Blue Print," 1918.
  6. ^ a b c d "Remember When? Tech Won 222-0 Over Cumberland". Pacific Stars and Stripes (AP wire story). 1959-10-08. 
  7. ^ Arnie Burdick (1974-03-04). "Touching lots of bases". Syracuse Herald Journal. 
  8. ^ a b Mercer Bailey (1956-10-07). "Tech Beat 222-0, in 1916 Game". The Ogden Standard-Examiner (AP wire story). 
  9. ^ a b "Ex-Georgia Tech Star Dead at 57". The Charleston Daily Mail. 1950-02-05. 
  10. ^ a b c d Bernie McCarty (May 1988). "Georgia Tech's 1917 backfield better than the Four Horsemen". College Football Historical Society. 
  11. ^ http://www.mdb.ua.edu/administration/history.php The Elephant Story
  12. ^ "MEMBER GEORGIA SPORTS HALL OF FAME". Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2009-08-30.