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UB football players stunned over death of teammate

Solomon Jackson, the University at Buffalo football player hospitalized after a medical emergency that occurred during a workout Feb. 22, died Monday night, the university announced Tuesday.

“Our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies go out to Solomon’s family as together we mourn his tragic and untimely death,” UB Athletic Director Allen Greene said in a statement.

The school declined further comment, citing federal privacy laws.

Jackson, from Stone Mountain, Ga., had been admitted to Buffalo General Medical Center, the hospital said last week.

UB football players were stunned and devastated by the news.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Joe Licata, who finished his senior season as UB’s quarterback last fall. “He is the ultimate teammate. He’d do whatever was best for the team. He was an inspirational guy. If the offense would come off the field struggling, he’d be the first one to meet us to pick our heads up. He was just an inspiring person.”

Teammates viewed him as one of the more enthusiastic, optimistic players on the team.

“He was really like a brother to me,” said UB running back Anthone Taylor. “He was so easy to get close with because there was never an awkward moment with him. He was loving and embracing. You just felt like he was somebody you could trust. You never questioned where his heart was. Off the field and on the field, he worked his butt off.”

“He was a real deep person,” said UB linebacker Okezie Alozie. “He always sees the bigger picture in everything. He never let anything get him down. He had a high spirit about everything. He was really happy about life. He loved life. He loved football. He loved God. He was always in Bible study. He’s always bring forth great ideas to the table in our meetings.”

In an email to the university’s athletics community, Greene said Jackson “demonstrated tremendous promise as a student-athlete, both on and off the field.”

“From the outpouring of prayers and support over the past week since Solomon was hospitalized, it has been abundantly clear just how many lives he touched on a daily basis through his contributions and character — as an athlete, as a student, as a friend and mentor to others, and as an active and engaged member of our campus community,” Greene said.

“[UB] President [Satish] Tripathi and I visited Solomon and his family early last week at the hospital, and from our visit it was clear Solomon was a young man of great character and integrity,” Greene continued. “He held these values at a very early age and brought them to all he undertook. He was active in his community and in his church — a genuinely kind spirit who was devoted to his family and to the well-being of people around him. All of us who had the pleasure and good fortune of knowing Solomon will remember him as a truly bright light on the field, in the classroom and around campus. We will remember him for his love of the game and his love of life. The best way we can honor his memory is for each of us to keep those values close in our own lives.”

Jackson was in his third year at UB, pursuing a major in sociology.

He started six games as a sophomore defensive end last fall. He played 38 percent of the defensive plays, which was third among defensive ends on the team.

The 6-foot-1 Jackson was one of the higher-rated prospects in UB’s 2013 recruiting class. He redshirted his first season and saw backup duty as an inside linebacker in UB’s 3-3-5 defense in 2014. He switched to defensive end with UB’s conversion to a 4-3 defense last season. He finished the year with 13 tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss.