ATLANTA (AP) — Brandon Adams, a rising senior who was expected to be a key member of Georgia Tech's defensive line under new coach Geoff Collins, died at the age of 21, the school announced Sunday.
Adams had been going through offseason workouts and was preparing for the start of spring practice when he died on campus Saturday. No cause was given.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was assisting and its medical examiner's office said an autopsy would be conducted Monday, a day before the Yellow Jackets are scheduled to hold their first practice of spring.
Adams' death was mourned by a program that was experiencing a surge of enthusiasm under Collins, the former Temple coach who took over at Georgia Tech after the retirement of Paul Johnson.
"Our entire Georgia Tech football family is heartbroken by the news of Brandon's passing," Collins said in a statement. "In the short time that I have had the privilege and honor of knowing Brandon, I admired and respected him, first and foremost as a terrific human being, but also as an outstanding teammate and leader."
The 6-foot-2, 325-pound lineman played in 33 games over three seasons with the Yellow Jackets. He was coming off his best season, when he made his first three career starts and recorded 24 tackles, five tackles for losses and two forced fumbles.
With Georgia Tech losing all three starters from last season's defensive line, Adams was pegged as a key player to watch during spring practice.
"It's really exciting to see what he's going to do this year because I know the strength program that they're doing, I know they're getting big, they're getting strong, and so it'll be interesting to see what he does coming up this year," Anree Saint-Amour, one of the departed starters, recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He's a great run stopper, and I feel like he's quick and he's nimble on his feet for his size. He'll use that in pass rush this year. Senior year is different because everything really slows down for you. You've got way more control over the game."
Adams was a business administration major who spent last summer interning for the Georgia Tech Research Institute.
"On behalf of the entire Georgia Tech athletics family, I offer my deepest condolences to Brandon's family and friends, including his past and present coaches, and his brothers in the Georgia Tech football family," athletic director Todd Stansbury said. "As we mourn the loss of such an incredible young life, we are also here to support Brandon's family and friends, his past and present coaches and his brothers within the Georgia Tech football family in any way that we can."
Johnson, who announced his retirement in December after coaching the Yellow Jackets for 11 seasons, said he and his wife were "crushed when we learned about Brandon Adams."
"He was without a doubt one of the finest people that I've had the opportunity to know," Johnson wrote on Twitter. "He was a talented young man and will be missed."
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp was among those who tweeted condolences.
A native of Brentwood, Tennessee, Adams was a three-sport star in football, wrestling and track and field at Brentwood Academy. He served as captain for the teams that won states championships in football and track during his senior year. In all during his high school career, he was part of four state championship squads.
"So sad to hear the news," Brentwood Academy tweeted on its football account. "He was a beast on the field and a gentle giant off the field. He will definitely be missed. Please lift this family up in your prayers."
Adams is survived by his mother, Lisa Greer; stepfather Reginald Woods and sister Rian. Memorial services have not been finalized.
AP Sports Writer Charles Odum contributed to this report.