O.J. Murdock, a reserve receiver for the Tennessee Titans, was found in his car on Monday morning with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He was taken to a local hospital and died at 10:43 a.m. He was 25.
Murdock was found at around 8:30 a.m. outside of Middleton High School in Tampa Bay, the high school he attended.
The Titans signed Murdock as an undrafted free agent in 2011, but he didn't see any game action in his rookie season due to an Achilles injury. He spent last season rehabbing with the team.
The Titans released this statement on their website:
"We are shocked and saddened to hear of O.J. Murdock's death this morning. In his brief time here, a number of our players, coaches and staff had grown close to O.J., and this is a difficult time for them. He spent the last year battling back from an Achilles injury as he prepared for this year's training camp. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as they try to cope with this tragedy."
Murdock had not shown up for either of the first two days of Titans training camp, which opened on July 27. According to CBSSports.com. he'd been excused for those two days for "personal reasons." Head coach Mike Munchak said he thought it was possible that Murdock would arrive at camp on Monday.
As a high schooler, Murdock was a highly-rated prospect and had scholarship offers from Florida, Florida State and Miami. He chose to play at South Carolina for Steve Spurrier.
After a redshirt year, and then seeing limited playing time, Murdock was arrested in Tampa for grand theft shoplifting and suspended from the team indefinitely. He left the program and took a year off from football before resurfacing at Fort Hays State, where he played receiver and ran track.
In 2010 as a Fort Hays State Tiger, Murdock racked up 1,290 receiving yards on 60 receptions, along with 12 touchdowns and a 21.5 yards per catch average.
The student newspaper at Fort Hays State had this quote from Murdock about his legal troubles and departure from South Carolina.
"It really made me just grow up," Murdock said. "It is bad that bad things have to happen to you for you to grow up sometimes, but it is another stepping stone in life I guess."
At South Carolina, Murdock sat behind a couple of other stars at receiver. One was Sidney Rice and the other was Kenny McKinley, who would also go on to be an NFL receiver. McKinley's life ended on September 20, 2010 when he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
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