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College Football Star Dies Suddenly At 25 -- Right Before NFL Draft

College Football Star Preparing For Next Week's NFL Draft Passes Away At 25

Former University of Albany defensive lineman and NFL Draft prospect Amitral “AJ” Simon has died. He was just 25 years old.

On Wednesday, the school announced on X (Twitter) that the defensive line star had passed away. The 2024 NFL Draft is slated to begin next week, and Simon had been a prospect who potentially had a solid chance of getting drafted by a pro team during that event. But instead his school and his family are now mourning his sudden loss.

A cause of death has not yet been released.

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On their X account, UAlbany Football was the first group to reveal the terrible news of Simon’s tragic passing. In a heartfelt message published along with a smiling picture of the late football star, they wrote:

“The UAlbany football program was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former student-athlete Amitral “AJ” Simon this morning. He was a tremendous young man and even better teammate throughout his time at UAlbany. He was a role model both on and off the field, serving as a pillar to this program over the last two years. He will be profoundly missed.”

UAlbany’s head coach Greg Gattuso also personally expressed his condolences over Simon’s death. In his message, the coach referenced the bond that he built with Simon in the last two years while the young man starred for the Great Danes:

“Two joyous years coaching and becoming friends with AJ Simon. My prayers are dedicated to the Simon family. I love you AJ and will always have a special place in my heart for #8.”

Back in December, after the college football season ended, Simon had declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft (see his announcement post via Instagram, below). He was a legit prospect for the draft, too — some pre-draft ranking boards had him among the top 400 players available to be selected. (The 32 NFL teams pick more than 250 players each year, FYI, in addition to signing dozens more free agents after the draft.) Simon had even taken a pre-draft visit to meet with New England Patriots coaches earlier this spring, per NBC Sports. So, his athletic prowess was legit.

We send our condolences to Simon’s family, friends, and former teammates. Just a terrible tragedy at such a young age — and on the eve of the NFL Draft that might have completely changed his life. Our hearts break for him and his loved ones.


[Image via Amitral Simon/Instagram/Instagram]

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Apr 18, 2024 17:22pm PDT