Arizona Wildcats offensive lineman Zach Hemmila passed away in his sleep Sunday night.
In a tearful press conference, head coach Rich Rodriguez and athletics director Greg Byrne discussed the tragic news.
“We lost a great young man,” Rodriguez said. “Everybody in our program is hurting.”
The visibly emotional Rodriguez said Hemmila’s parents had been in town “the last couple days,” and added he did not know much in the way of details.
The coach went on to say he saw Hemmila Sunday night and last talked to the player two nights ago.
“Just out of the blue he just came down and sat beside me, talked for about 45 minutes just about everything,” he said. “How happy he was.”
Rodriguez said he would appreciate if people did not speculate on the circumstances surrounding the 22-year-old’s death.
“He’s a great young man,” he said.
Byrne said the team was notified of tragic news Monday morning, and that grief counselors will be on campus “to support the team, coaches, the staff and everybody that got to be around Zach.”
“As Coach said, he was a great young man and we’re just so deeply saddened,” he added. “Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and the team, his teammates, and the coaches and everybody involved.”
A Chandler High School product, Hemmila, who had six career starts for Arizona, was battling to be the Wildcats’ starting center.
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