Eric Penick starred for the Irish in the early 70s. (Photo: University of Notre Dame)

A National Championship, Condoleezza Rice and the wisdom of Ara! Orange Bowl eve shenanigans, incarceration, and medical tragedy! Business successes, loyal friends, a loving family, a dog named Zoe and faith in God. Former star Notre Dame running back (1972-1974), Eric Penick has a story to tell, and he has now done so in a newly published book.

Penick, who was a five time state of Ohio sprint champion in high school as well as an All-American running back is best known for his 85 yard TD run in the stadium against USC in 1973. He also scored on a 12 yarder against Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl. But there are many layers to the man as revealed in A Notre Dame Man: The Life, Lore, and Runs of Eric Penick The book, with a foreword by ND teammate and NFL Hall of Famer Dave Casper is co-authored by award winning journalist Stephen Alexander. Alexander happens to be the son of another of Penick’s ND teammates (former starting linebacker), Drew Mahalic.

Penick last hit the national radar in the winter of 2022 when it was learned that he was suffering from diabetes with complications from some injuries including one suffered while at ND. The progression of the disease eventually forced him to have a leg amputated. That was a dark time for Penick who spent months in hospitals and rehabilitation, “In the darkest days of my sickness, after my leg had been cut off, I used to want to die.” writes Penick.

Fortunately, Penick who will turn 70 this fall, is now well along the road to rebuilding his life. Currently he lives in Michigan with one of his daughters and undergoes physical therapy five days a week. He still dreams of running, so much so that he has a plan, “I want to get a racing prosthetic blade and do the 100 yard dash again.” He is looking forward to the 50 year anniversary reunion of the 1973 National Championship team which will fittingly take place on campus the weekend of this year’s showdown with USC.

The book is a fast read of just 106 pages but is loaded with fascinating and inspiring facts about Eric Penick’s struggle to live up to the standard of “A Notre Dame Man”. Each page is rich with content sure to interest anyone interested in Notre Dame Football and/or a really good redemption story. So much is packed into a relatively short book, that content seems to at times only scratch the surface of a very interesting life.

As Penick continues to live his life as “A Notre Dame Man”, he states that he is determined to now add more chapters to his interesting life. He hints at wanting to get back into business and to resume preaching, another vocation he has pursued during his days, “I still have a lot to say, and I know I can still touch people’s lives with my message about God.”

A Notre Dame Man: The Life, Lore and Runs of Eric Penick is available on Amazon. Plans are underway that may make Eric available to sign copies at the Notre Dame Bookstore prior to the USC game.

ByPhil Houk

For over 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

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