AJ Simon, former Albany defensive star, dies week before NFL draft

AJ Simon

Amitral “AJ” Simon, a former defensive star at the University of Albany hoping to be chosen in next week’s NFL draft, died on Wednesday, the school announced. He was 25.

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The university did not provide a cause of death, ESPN reported.

Simon, a native of Tobyhanna in eastern Pennsylvania, played two seasons at Albany after beginning his college career at Bloomsburg (Pa.) University, according to The Athletic. A 6-foot-1, 267-pound defensive lineman for the Great Danes, Simon had 17.5 sacks during his career. He had 12.5 during the 2023 season, when Albany finished with an 11-4 record, the sports website reported.

The Great Danes reached the semifinals of the NCAA’s FCS playoffs in 2023, according to NBC Sports.

Simon began his college career at Bloomsburg (Pa.) University and lettered for one season at Pocono Mountain West High School, according to his player biography.

“The UAlbany football program was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former student-athlete Amitral ‘AJ’ Simon this morning,” the University of Albany wrote in a statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter. “AJ 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.”

Simon was an All-Coastal Athletic Association first-team selection in 2023, ESPN reported.

“My prayers are dedicated to the Simon family. I love you AJ and will always have a special place in my heart for #8,” Albany coach Greg Gattuso wrote on X.

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