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University of Utah freshman running back dies at 19

University of Utah freshman running back Ty Jordan, who this week was named Pac-12’s offensive newcomer of the year, has died, the school’s team announced Saturday. He was 19. 

While authorities have not yet officially announced a cause of death, the Denton Police Department in Jordan’s home state of Texas told ESPN that they responded to a shooting call late Friday evening, where they discovered a gunshot victim had been shot one time. 

According to ESPN, the victim was transported to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. 

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"Following a preliminary investigation, we do believe that this was an accidental shooting, where the victim accidentally shot himself," department public information officer Allison Beckwith told ESPN.

Words cannot express the devastation and heartache that our team is feeling right now upon learning of the tragic death of our teammate and brother,” Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham wrote in a statement Saturday. 

“Ty's personality and smile were infectious and he made a huge impact on our program in the short time he was with us,” he continued. “He leaves an indelible mark on each of us and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

The school’s athletics director, Mark Harlan, also released a statement, writing that the school was “deeply saddened and shocked” to learn of Jordan’s death. 

“Our priority is on supporting his family and the student-athletes, coaches and staff in our football program who are so deeply hurting right now,” Harlan added. “Coach Whittingham and I are working closely to provide support and resources for our Utah Football family in this extremely difficult time."

On Tuesday, the Pac-12 conference announced that Jordan won the title of “Freshman Offensive Player of the Year,” finishing the season with more than 100 yards in each of his last three games. 

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He also ended the season with a total of 597 yards rushing, 11 catches for 126 yards and six touchdowns.

The conference noted that Jordan was the first Utah player to win a freshman of the year title and the second to win any of the league’s annual awards. 

In November 2019, Jordan and an opposing high school football player in Mesquite, a Dallas suburb, went viral after they appeared together in a photo kneeling in prayer following a game. 

Sherman High School player Gage Smith told NBC’s “Today Show” at the time that it was "meant for just me and him to have a moment and to pray over his family and for his mom,'' who had stage 4 lung and bone cancer.

"It made me cry," Tiffany, Jordan's mother, told "TODAY" at the time. "[Smith] didn't have to do that. The fact that he took the time to pray with Ty for me, that took my breath away."

Tiffany Jordan died in August, according to a tweet from Ty Jordan.