Posted on May 29, 2012 at 11:13 AM
Tuesday, May 29 at 11:36 AM
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Johnie Kirton, a fullback with the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League, has died in Northern California, the team announced Tuesday. He was 26.
SaberCats owner and head coach Darren Arbet called Kirton a "great team guy and hard-nosed player." The team says Kirton died Monday in Santa Clara, Calif. A cause of death was not released.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Kirton was found dead in a Santa Clara hotel room Monday Night. At this point, according to Santa Clara police, there is no reason to suspect any crime had been committed in connection with his death.
On Saturday night, Kirton had scored three touchdowns in San Jose's win over Chicago.
Kirton starred for Jackson High School in Everett where he was the Gatorade State Player of the Year in 2003. He gained 2,675 yards rushing as a senior including a school record 352 yards against Shorecrest. He also scored 34 touchdowns.
Kirton went on to play his college ball at the University of Washington where he was recruited as a running back, but also played tight end and defensive tackle.
SaberCats players will honor Kirton's memory by wearing stickers on their helmets with his number 37 in their game Saturday against the Milwaukee Mustangs.
Kirton also played for the Chicago Rush and the Arizona Rattlers as well as the SaberCats during three seasons in the AFL.