Albany Pass Rusher AJ Simon Passes Away Ahead of 2024 NFL Draft

Albany v Hawai'i
Albany v Hawai'i / Darryl Oumi/GettyImages

The football world mourns the loss of a rising star today as AJ Simon, a former defensive end for the University at Albany, tragically passed away. Simon, who was part of the 2024 NFL draft class, had captured the attention of scouts and fans alike with his explosive pass-rush and unwavering dedication to the game.

A Brief Career Overview

AJ Simon, standing at 6 feet 1 inch and weighing 267 pounds, made a significant impact during his time with the Great Danes. Over the past two seasons, he appeared in 24 games, leaving an indelible mark on Albany’s football program. His stats spoke volumes: 32 tackles for loss and an impressive 16.5 sacks during his college career. In 2023, Simon’s outstanding performance earned him a spot on the All-CAA first-team defense.

The Great Danes, led by head coach Greg Gattuso, celebrated their first CAA conference title last season—a remarkable achievement that hadn’t been seen since their 2012 Northeast Conference win in the FCS. Simon played a pivotal role in their journey to the FCS semifinals, where they faced off against top-ranked South Dakota State.

Coaches’ Praise and NFL Prospects

Simon wasn’t just a force on the field; he was a joy to study. Coaches raved about his work ethic, leadership, and infectious enthusiasm. His passion for the game extended beyond the gridiron, leaving a lasting impression on everyone he encountered.

Dane Brugler, an analyst for The Athletic, ranked Simon as the 36th-best edge-rusher in the 2024 draft class. Scouts admired his explosiveness off the line, his ability to disrupt opposing quarterbacks, and his relentless pursuit of excellence. Simon’s potential as an NFL player was undeniable.

A Heartfelt Tribute

Coach Gattuso shared his grief on social media, writing:

“Two joyous years coaching and becoming friends with AJ Simon. My prayers are dedicated to the Simon family. I love you AJ and will always have a special place in my heart for #8.”

The Albany football community joins Coach Gattuso in mourning the loss of this exceptional young talent. Our thoughts and prayers go out to AJ Simon’s family during this difficult time.

A Life Cut Short

As we remember AJ Simon, we reflect on the fragility of life and the impact he made in his short 25 years. An official cause of death has not yet been announced, leaving us with questions and a profound sense of loss.

In the coming days, tributes will pour in from teammates, coaches, and fans. But today, let us pause and honor AJ Simon—a promising talent gone too soon.

Rest in peace, AJ.