Albany Football Star AJ Simon Dead at 25

Originally appeared on E! Online

The football community is mourning the loss of a rising star.

Amitral "AJ" Simon—a former defensive lineman for the University at Albany's football teamdied at the age of 25 on April 17, his school confirmed. No cause of death has been confirmed at this time.

"AJ was a tremendous young man and even better teammate throughout his time at UAlbany," his former team wrote in a statement shared to X, formerly known as Twitter. "He was a role model both on and off the field, serving as a pillar to this program over the last two years."

And in an homage to their university's mascot, UAlbany added, "Forever a Great Dane."

Originally from Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania, AJ began his collegiate career at Bloomsburg University before transferring to UAlbany in 2022 where he played for two years. A first-team All-CAA defensive end, AJ helped lead his school to the semifinals of the NCAA FCS playoffs in 2023.

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He totaled five sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss his first year and bested himself in 2023 with 12.5 sacks, 74 pressures and 21.5 tackles for loss, according to NBC Sports.

Amitral "AJ" Simon
Instagram / AJ Simon

Great Danes head coach Greg Gattuso wrote on X of his time working with the athlete, "Two joyous year[s] 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."

AJ had been hoping to be picked in the NFL draft taking place between April 25 and 27 and, according to NBC, had taken a pre-draft visit to New England recently.

At the close of his 2023 season, AJ penned a message reflecting on his time at Albany, during which he announced his plans to try and take his football career to the professional level.

"I am truly honored to have been a part of the Purple Fam and look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead," AJ captioned his December 21 post. "I am thrilled to represent the University at Albany as I take this next step in my football career. Sad that it's over, but grateful that it happened."

He continued, "With that being said, I will be entering my name in the 2024 NFL Draft!"

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