Two weeks after collapsing during a team workout and being hospitalized, Maryland football offensive lineman Jordan McNair died Wednesday. The Randallstown resident and McDonogh graduate was entering his sophomore season.
The 19-year-old’s cause of death has not yet been announced.
McNair, who played in one game last season for the Terps, was a two-time All-Metro offensive guard at McDonogh. Listed at 6 feet 4 and 325 pounds, he was a happy, smiling mountain with a promising football future. He was named to MaxPreps’ Sophomore All-America team in 2014 when he was already drawing a long list of offers from top Division I football programs and was well on his way to becoming a four-star recruit.
Maryland acting athletic director Damon Evans issued a statement confirming McNair’s death Wednesday afternoon.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our student-athletes, sophomore football player Jordan McNair,” Evans said. “Jordan was a tremendous athlete, student, teammate and friend, and he will be sorely missed. We offer our deepest condolences to his parents, family and friends. … For those who had the opportunity to know Jordan, you understand the sadness we are feeling.
“Our thoughts and support continue to be with his family as they grieve the loss of this outstanding young man.”
Maryland football coach DJ Durkin also commented on McNair.
“Our team is heartbroken with the loss of Jordan McNair. Jordan was an incredible young man, and his passion and enthusiasm made him an invaluable and beloved member of our team,” Durkin said in a statement. “Jordan was a hard worker and he always had a smile on his face. He was an extremely talented football player and a humble and genuine human being. He embodied the essence of what it means to be a teammate. Jordan was a fighter. Over the past few weeks, Jordan never gave up with his family, friends and team by his side. Our team will continue to be inspired by the spirit of this brave fighter. Please continue to pray for Jordan’s family during this difficult time.”
On his @TheRealJMcNair Twitter account, McNair revealed passions familiar to millennials in Baltimore and abroad. The latest "Avengers" film left him speechless ("Just saw infinity war...no words," he tweeted), and a tournament-style Netflix bracket left with him one choice ("Ozark for the W"). He retweeted "SpongeBob SquarePants" memes and praise of LeBron James. He celebrated Washington Capitals wins, Ravens draft picks and UMBC's historic NCAA tournament upset in men's basketball. And he shared only-in-Baltimore moments with his 1,800-plus followers.
At McDonogh, McNair was a two-time consensus All-State selection. After the Eagles went 8-3 his senior year, he was the only player to repeat as a first-team All-Metro selection on offense.
He had already pulled in offers from such programs as Maryland, Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State before his junior year. His size, range, presence and athleticism put him on the recruiting radar earlier than most players his age. Dom Damico, who coached McNair at McDonogh, said at the time that he already had the technique of a college player.
As a senior, McNair was the highest-ranked Baltimore-area high school player, rated No. 287 nationally in the 247Sports.com Composite rankings. He opted to play for Maryland over about 20 other scholarship offers. He was majoring in kinesiology.
Last fall, he played in one game for the Terps, a 63-17 win over Towson on Sept. 9, before redshirting. After Maryland’s spring practice in April, he was projected to be the second left tackle on the depth chart.
Current and former coaches and teammates took to Twitter to pay tribute to McNair. Carolina Panthers rookie wide receiver DJ Moore, drafted out of Maryland this year, tweeted: “Rest In Peace Jordan McNair Gone To Soon.”
“The world lost a great person today,” McDonogh coach Hakeem Sule, an assistant coach when McNair played, tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “We will never forget the impact that [McNair] had in our lives. RIP Jordan...”
Terps redshirt freshman quarterback Kasim Hill wrote: “Lord, words cannot explain anything right now. Thank you for allowing me to know a great friend, teammate and a man who was truly a brother. Watch over us all Jordan and rest in peace, Love you forever.”
Freshman quarterback Tyler DeSue added a photo of McNair and tweeted: “Rest easy brother. U were taken to soon from us but we know that your in a better place now.”
Jalen Brown, a freshman defensive lineman at St. Frances who grew up in Hyattsville and graduated from DeMatha, tweeted: “R.I.P. Big Jordan McNair.”
Former Maryland offensive coordinator Walt Bell, who coached McNair last season before taking the same job at Florida State, tweeted Wednesday that McNair was “not only a great football player, but he was an unbelievable human being.”
“Never take life for granted,” Bell wrote. “Jordan McNair was not only a great football player, but he was an unbelievable human being. He always had a smile on his face, an inviting demeanor, and loved his teammates. Rest In Peace big man. See you on the other side.”
McNair was hospitalized after an organized team workout May 29. At that time, Durkin said in a statement, “Jordan’s an outstanding young man and a beloved member of our Maryland football family. Our entire program is supporting Jordan and his family during this time. We’re continuing to keep Jordan in our thoughts and prayers.”
Players collapsing during offseason workouts have become a familiar refrain. Kent State freshman lineman Tyler Heintz died after a conditioning workout in June 2017, and his death led to the strength coach being fired.
In the Baltimore area, Towson offensive lineman Gavin Class (St. Paul’s) suffered from heatstroke during a summer practice in 2013 and collapsed. Despite sustaining liver failure, he attempted to return to the Tigers, but his legal battle to do so was denied. In 2014, Morgan State freshmen defensive lineman Marquese Meadow died of heatstroke after a preseason practice, according to an autopsy.
According to research by Scott Anderson, Oklahoma’s head trainer and an expert on player safety, many of the 35-plus college football-related deaths since 2000 have been traced to overexertion.