Former Gophers linebacker Gary Tinsley passes away at age 22
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Former Gophers linebacker Gary Tinsley has passed away.
Tinsley, a 22-year-old Florida native, was found unconscious by his roommate and current "U" player Keanon Cooper on Friday morning in Roy Wilkins Hall -- a dormitory on the University of Minnesota campus. Attempts by an emergency medical response team to revive Tinsley were unsuccessful and he was eventually pronounced dead shortly before 8 a.m.
"It's a very, very sad day for our football program and for our young men," coach Jerry Kill said a profoundly somber address to the media.
The cause of death has not been identified, but police investigating the case have reported no immediate signs of foul play.
Tinsley -- one of the Gophers' top defensive standouts in recent years -- concluded his collegiate career in November. As a starter in all 12 games in his junior and senior seasons, the four-time letterwinner compiled a combined 177 tackles, putting him at the top of the "U" defensive charts.
He had spent his time following the 2011 season working towards a degree in business marketing, while continuing to pursue aspirations of an NFL career.
Tinsley, who spoke with 1500 ESPN last week, expressed a building excitement regarding his graduation in May. While he said his main focus was on obtaining his degree, he had already signed with an agent and was in talks with prospective teams.
"To me it was kind of like a dream come true coming out here," Tinsley said after concluding his workout at the Gophers' pro day on March 5. "It's something I've always wanted to do and I'm really here right now. It's like I'm living out a dream."
The University announced that Tinsley will be awarded his degree posthumously.
As news of his passing spread, several past and present members of the Gophers football program took to Twitter to express their reactions.
Former Gophers fullback and current Green Bay Packer Jon Hoese tweeted "Lost a brother and a teammate today. RIP GT...Will surely be missed by many! #GT51"
Mike Sherels, director of "U" football alumni relations and special assistant to the head coach, also reflected the sadness permeating the team "The most precious thing in life is time...you can't get it back and you never know how much you have left. #RIPGT51 you are missed already."