Former Ohio State football offensive lineman Jason Winrow, a native of Bridgeton, N.J., died Sunday night. He was 41.
The Columbus Dispatch and WBNS-TV reported that Winrow died suddenly in his Westerville, Ohio, home. A 1989 graduate of Cumberland Regional High School, Winrow played guard from 1989-1993 under former Ohio State coach John Cooper.
Winrow was All-Big Ten as a senior and second-team All-American and was drafted in the sixth round by the New York Giants in 1994. His NFL career was cut short in 1996 by injuries to his knee and back.
"Those are tremendous accomplishments," Ryan Nakai, a classmate and teammate of Winrow's at Cumberland, said by phone Tuesday. "Those things are great, but if you were to know Jason, it's moreso the person that everyone is going to miss.
In addition to being a standout on the high school football field, Winrow also was a track and field star for the Colts, winning the 1989 discus title at the state Meet of Champions.
Nakai played football and track and field with Winrow.
"It was a shock," Nakai said of the news. "Any time it's a friend and a classmate it's difficult, but you feel for the family.
"He was a big guy, a gentle giant, big in stature but at the same time very friendly and very outgoing. There wasn't a dull moment with Jason."
Current Vineland High School track and field coach Elliott DeShields was the coach at Cumberland from 1987-1990 and didn't hesitate Tuesday to recall Winrow's school record-setting throw.
"Absolutely (181 feet, 11 inches) - still stands today," DeShields said.
DeShields heard of Winrow's death Monday night.
"I was in disbelief," DeShields said. "It really shocked me.
"He was one of the nicest giants in the world - that's the best way to put it."
Winrow returned to the Columbus area, working in private business and also appearing as a college football analyst on WBNS.
He had health problems in recent years stemming from diabetes. According to his website, Winrow was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 2002 at the age of 31.
He is survived by his wife and three children. The family was finalizing funeral arrangements.
(Staff Writer Joh•O'Kane contributed to this report).