NFL prospect AJ Simon dies one week before the draft

College football player Amitral “AJ” Simon died just one week before might have realized his pro ball dreams, his former university announced Wednesday.

Simon, 25, transferred to the University of Albany in New York, where he played as a defensive lineman with the Great Danes in 2022 and 2023. The school said in a statement on social media that he will be "profoundly missed."

"AJ was a tremendous young man and even better teammate throughout this time at UAlbany," the school said."He was a role model both on and off the field, serving as a pillar to this program over the last two years."

A cause of death was not disclosed.

Simon was eligible for next week's NFL draft and, according to NBC Sports, had made a recent visit to New England.

He announced his decision to enter the draft in December after his time on the team ended. He described his collegiate career as a Great Dane as "pivotal" in shaping his path to the NFL draft, making him into a better person both on and off the field.

"I am thrilled to represent the University of Albany as I take this next step in my football career," he wrote. "Sad that it's over, but grateful that it happened. With that being said, I will be entering my name in the 2024 NFL Draft."

Simon was one of the players the Coastal Athletic Association named in February as one of the student-athletes who made the Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll, which requires students to keep at least a 3.0 grade-point average.

On the field, Simon impressed with 12.5 sacks and more than 20 tackles last season, NBC Sports reported.

Albany head coach Greg Gattuso described his two years coaching Simon as "joyous" in a post on X.

"My prayers are dedicated to the Simon family," Gattuso wrote. "I love you AJ and will always have a special place in my heart for #8."

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