Arizona offensive lineman Zach Hemmila passed away in his sleep overnight. A senior from Chandler, Ariz., Hemmila was 22 years old.
Arizona offensive lineman Zach Hemmila passed away in his sleep last night.
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) August 8, 2016
Football coach Rich Rodriguez and athletic director Greg Byrne were tearful when meeting with reporters Monday morning.
“The only thoughts on my mind are Zach’s family,” Rodriguez said. “We lost a great young man. Everybody in our program is hurting. … Two nights ago, we talked for about 45 minutes about how happy he was.”
Byrne confirmed that Hemmila passed away in his sleep and was notified Monday morning. According to a newspaper report, a cousin found Hemmila in his room Monday morning.
“Coach just told the team and we’ll have grief counselors available,” Byrne said. “We’re so deeply saddened by this. He was a local kid who meant so much to the program.”
Hemmila, 6-foot- 3 and 320 pounds, was projected as Arizona’s starter at center.
There were no more details available and Arizona officials will await medical tests and an autopsy.
Arizona didn’t practice Sunday but practiced Monday morning. The players were told about Hemmila’s death after practice.
After speaking to the media at the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, Byrne was seen talking and hugging players as they walked from the practice field to the locker room.