Arizona senior offensive lineman Zach Hemmila was found dead this morning, UA coach Rich Rodriguez announced Monday.
UA athletic director Greg Byrne said Hemmila, 22, passed away in his sleep overnight. A cousin found him this morning. No other details were provided.
The Wildcats practiced Monday morning. The players were informed about Hemmila’s death at the conclusion of practice.
“The only thought on my mind right now is with Zach Hemmila’s family,” Rodriguez said, fighting back tears. “We lost a great young man. Everybody in our program is hurting.”
Rodriguez said he had just spoken with Hemmila’s father, Joel. He and wife Linda had been visiting in recent days.
Hemmila’s body will be examined Tuesday, said Dr. Gregory Hess, chief medical examiner for Pima County. Results of those tests are expected in 4-6 weeks.
“That’s about all we know right now,” Hess said.
Hemmila, who played at Chandler High, was entering his fifth season and was the favorite to start at center. He started six games at left guard last season.
Rodriguez said he last saw Hemmila after a team meeting Sunday night. The two conversed for about 45 minutes Saturday night.
“About everything,” Rodriguez said. “How happy he was.”
Rodriguez said the rest of the conversation would remain private.
Byrne said campus grief counselors would be made available to players and coaches. The team is scheduled to meet Monday afternoon.
“As Coach said, he’s a great young man,” Byrne said. “We’re just so deeply saddened. Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends, the team, his teammates, the coaches and everybody involved.”
After speaking to the media at the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, Byrne greeted and hugged players as they walked from the practice field to the locker room.
Current and former teammates honored Hemmila via social media:
Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Zach Hemila. Rest easy Zach forever my brother! #Forever65— Reggie Gilbert (@reggiegilbert84) August 8, 2016
Rest in peace brother. It won't be the same without you. Please everyone pray for Zach and his family #65 #BearDownForLife— josh pollack (@JoshPollack9) August 8, 2016
Wow, not expecting this. God bless u & ur family @hemmila65 rest easy brother. Incredible teammate, will still play huge part in this season— Jared Tevis (@TucTownTevis) August 8, 2016
Rest in peace brother... My thoughts and prayers are to your family #Forever65— Nathan Eldridge (@nathanj53) August 8, 2016
I looked up to him like a big brother, I'll never forget you bro— Harper Sherman (@Harpersherman) August 8, 2016
R.I.P Zach bro. Forever in our hearts. We will do big things for you this season. ✊🏾❤️— God's Gift (@_kid16_) August 8, 2016