The Tennessee football community is mourning the loss of former defensive back LaDarrell McNeil.
The university officially confirmed the 27-year-old McNeil’s death in a post on Twitter Friday morning.
“We are mourning the loss of VFL LaDarrell McNeil,” Tennessee Football said in a tweet. “Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and his teammates. LaDarrell will be dearly missed.”
The cause of death has not been officially announced, but several of McNeil’s former teammates expressed their condolences on social media Thursday night.
“Ladarrell was the realest safety I ever played with and an even better person,” former Tennessee safety Brian Randolph said on Twitter. “Although it hurts that you're gone, I find comfort in knowing you are with Our Father.”
“Rest In Peace LD,” former Tennessee punter Trevor Daniel tweeted.
McNeil appeared in 47 games for the Vols from 2012 to his senior year of 2015, while starting in 41 of his last 43 games. He recorded 219 total tackles, five interceptions, 14 passes defended, 2.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in four years at Tennessee.
McNeil’s best statistical season was 2014, when he racked up a career-high 76 tackles, two interceptions and 1.5 tackles for loss while also breaking up five passes and forcing a fumble, helping the Vols to their first winning season since 2009.
During his senior year, McNeil, a Dallas, Texas native, suffered a neck injury in a preseason practice that was initially believed to be career-threatening. But on the second opinion of a doctor in Texas, he was cleared to return to the field just weeks later for the Vols’ game against Western Carolina.
McNeil intercepted a pass in the second quarter of that game and returned it for 57 yards, setting up a touchdown in Tennessee’s 55-10 victory.
"Shocked and saddened to hear the news of LaDarrell’s passing," former Vols' quarterback Josh Dobbs tweeted. "Immediate thoughts are for his family. #RIP."
“I loved coaching LaDarrell McNeil,” Willie Martinez, Tennessee’s secondary coach from 2013-16, said Friday on Twitter. “He was a young man of high character, good teammate, one the toughest & most physical players I’ve had the privilege to coach. Thankful & blessed to have been apart of his life. RIP.”