Gaines Adams, a defensive lineman for the Chicago Bears who was an all-American at Clemson, died Sunday in South Carolina, the Bears said. He was 26.
The team said Adams died Sunday morning at Self Regional Hospital. He had gone into cardiac arrest about an hour before at his family's home in Greenwood, said Marcia Kelley-Clark, chief deputy coroner for Greenwood County.
An autopsy conducted Sunday showed Adams had an enlarged heart, Kelley-Clark said. She said the condition can often lead to a heart attack, though Adams' relatives didn't know of any problems.
"Nobody was aware of any kind of medical condition," Kelley-Clark said.
Toxicology tests are being run by the State Law Enforcement Division, though drug use was not suspected as a factor in Adams' death. However, those results probably will not be available for at least two months, Kelley-Clark said.
The six-foot-five, 258-pound defensive end was well-known among Clemson fans for breaking up Wake Forest's field goal try and returning it for a touchdown in 2006 to defeat the Demon Deacons.
Tommy Bowden, who was Adams' head coach at Clemson, said he couldn't believe the young player was gone.
"I just couldn't believe it was Gaines," Bowden said. "I will always remember the smile he had on his face and I will always remember his patience."
Adams was selected fourth overall in the 2007 NFL draft by Tampa Bay, but was traded to the Chicago Bears in October 2009 for a second-round pick in the 2010 draft. He had not been able to live up to expectations that he would revive the Buccaneers' once-feared pass rush, having just 17 tackles and one sack in 15 games this season.
Adams fell short of the benchmark set by Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris, who said at the start of training camp that Adams would be considered a "bust" if he didn't reach double digits in sacks.
Adams said during training camp that he welcomed the challenge posed by Morris, who also called out the third-year pro after Adams began the season with lacklustre performances in the first three games.
"In football you need that. Players tend to get in their own element and do things that they want to do. They need to be called out sometimes. He's the coach. Whatever he says, goes," Adams said in early August.
With the Bears, Adams played brief stints on defence. He made five tackles.
Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher told the Chicago Tribune that Adams' death was "crazy."
"I didn't know him that well because he came in during the middle of the season," Urlacher said. "But I did know him. I still saw him every day when I went into work. It's just weird.
"I had a teammate die when I was in college. You just don't know how to handle it. It's just sad, man. It's a bad deal."