Two days after scoring the game-winning touchdown for the San Jose SaberCats, former UW fullback/linemen Johnnie Kirton passed away at the age of 26.
Details out of San Jose are limited. Here’s the story from the Mercury News
“It is with great shock and sadness that we confirm that Johnie Kirton has passed away,” said SaberCats owner/head coach Darren Arbet. “He was such a great kid, and in the short time he was in San Jose he was such a valued member of our organization’s family. Johnie was a great team guy and hard-nosed player, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Johnie’s family in this difficult time.”
Kirton was named the Gatorade Washington Player of the Year and AP state 4a player of the year as a senior at Jackson. That year as the featured back in their offensive system, he rushed for 2,675 yards. That total was was one yard short of the Washington state prep single-season record. He averaged 8.9 yards per carry and scored 34 touchdowns. He was also a Northwest Nuggets honorable mention and a member of the TNT’s Western 100.
At UW, he was moved to fullback, then tight end and then defensive end under head coach Tyrone Willingham.
Kirton was switched to tight end after his redshirt season. In 2005, he had 14 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown. The following season, he caught 12 passes for 93 yards and had three touchdowns. His numbers dropped off in 2007, thanks in part to injuries.
In 2008, he was moved to defensive tackle and played in all 12 games, making 27 tackles and two tackles for loss.