Arizona Wildcats offensive lineman dies in sleep
TUCSON — Zach Hemmila, a senior offensive lineman for the University of Arizona, has died in his sleep, athletic director Greg Byrne said Monday.
Byrne and Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez told the team of Hemmila's death after practice on Monday morning.
Hemmila was found by a cousin. There was no immediate word on a cause of death.
Rodriguez, wiping away tears, his voice choked with emotion, called Hemmila "a great young man."
"We talked two nights ago," Rodriguez said. "Just out of the blue (he) came down and sat beside me and talked about everything, how happy he was."
A fifth-year senior from Chandler, Arizona, Hemmila was 22. Listed at 6-foot-3, 318 pounds, Hemmila appeared in 13 games last season and started six of them at left guard.
He was a leading candidate for the starting center's job this year.
"We're just so deeply saddened," Byrne said. "Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and the team, his teammates and the coaches and everybody involved. He's a Chandler kid, and means so much to our program."
Byrne said grief counselors would be available "to support the team and coaches and staff and everybody."
Former Arizona All-America linebacker Scooby Wright III, now a rookie with the Cleveland Browns, sent a tweet that read:
"Rest in peace big dawg."