Arizona, Stanford Athletic Star Zach Hoffpauir Dies Suddenly at Age 26

zach hoffpauir

UNC headshot/Instagram Zach Hoffpauir

Zach Hoffpauir, a college football standout at Stanford and an Arizona high school athletic star who also tried a career in baseball, has died suddenly in Arizona, according to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s office. He died in his sleep.

A medical examiner’s database says that Hoffpauir, who was only 26 years old, died on May 14. The medical examiner’s report is not yet complete and does not yet list a cause of death. It lists his full name as Zachary Thomas Hoffpauir and says the cause of death is “pending” (as late as May 17). The athletic standout’s father, Doug Hoffpauir, also confirmed his son’s death to AZCentral, which called Zach Hoffpauir one of the greatest athletes in Arizona high school history. Doug Hoffpauir also did not provide any details on how Zach Hoffpauir died.

According to AZCentral, Hoffpauir was staying with his dad in Arizona during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. His dad told the newspaper that Zach’s death was “hard because he loved coaching. He was so excited to get back to Northern Colorado and try to influence lives beyond football.” He added: “He had so much to look forward to.” Hoffpauir got his start at Peoria Centennial, where he played football and baseball.

Maricopa County entry on Zach Hoffpauir’s death.

On social media, Hoffpauir wrote that he was looking forward to a new career as a coach for Northern Colorado Football. “Excited for this opportunity with @unc_bearsfb time for a culture change 🤘🏼,” he wrote on Instagram on April 7. His Instagram posts showed him having fun with friends, fishing, in a baseball uniform and with family members.

According to UNC, Hoffpauir was “Assistant Football Coach – Safeties” since February 2020.

His last tweet came on May 10. In recent tweets, he discussed the Michael Jordan documentary.

Tributes flowed in for Hoffpauir on social media. “Shook up about this. Zach could light up a room like it was nothing, and had this amazing, unique personality. Praying for the Hoffpauir family during this time,” wrote Zach Ertz, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Here’s what you need to know:

Stanford Football Wrote a Moving Tribute to Hoffpauir

Stanford football had close ties to Hoffpauir, and its official Twitter page wrote this tribute:

We are heartbroken for the tragic loss of our brother, Zach Hoffpauir, gone far too soon. Zach lit up every room he walked into, intent on giving his vitality and passion to bring out your best.

Our thoughts and love are with Zach’s family and friends.

Rest In Peace, Hoff

Stanford Head Football Coach David Shaw wrote on Twitter, “Life is not just about what you accomplish. I believe life is about how you influence others. Every day Zach Hoffpauir gave his love and passion to his family, his teammates and the players he coached. Our prayers are with the Hoffpauir family, though Zach you are always with us.”

UNC Bears Football wrote, “Our hearts are heavy with the tragic news of Coach Zach Hoffpauir. His impact on our team and the energy he brought will never be forgotten.”

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey wrote about his anguish on Instagram. He wrote:

Yesterday Heaven gained an angel, and I lost one of my best friends in the world. Zach showed me the way when I got to college. He did things the right way. He taught me how to enjoy life. He taught me how to not give a fuck about what people think about me, and to do it my way. He never lost an argument, or a dance battle, and he said what he meant and meant what he said. I never doubted for a second whether or not he had my back. He was a true friend and a great brother to anyone he knew. He was a walking example of how to care for people, a rare soul. We always talked about living simply when we got older: Hunting, fishing, riding bulls, RVing across the country with @beaukitson (One day we’ll do that). We talked about the little things in life and how to never take for granted a loved one. I’ll cherish all the memories we had bro. I love you and your family and I promise we’ll make you proud. Watch over us. Hug your loved ones extra today. 🙏🏼

Hoffpauir Was a Football Standout Who Also Excelled at Baseball

Hoffpauir was a well-rounded athlete. A 2018 article on described him as a “D-backs prospect” who was playing Class A ball.

“An All-Pac-12 performer in both football and baseball while at Stanford from 2013-2015, Hoffpauir signed with the D-backs after they selected him in the 22nd round of the 2015 Draft,” the article says. He could have gone to the NFL. He told the site he worried about concussions, saying, “I didn’t want to risk my health. I took some time and talk and talked to some people, and ended up thinking that football wasn’t worth it. Money is great, but my health is more important.”

The UNC website says that Hoffpauir “spent time in his home state of Arizona working as a high school assistant before joining the staff at Northern Colorado.”

UNC also provided this bio for Hoffpauir’s athletic career:

He attended Stanford University where he was a two-sport athlete on the nationally ranked football and baseball team. Hoffpauir was on the 2012, 2013 and 2015 Pac 12 Championship football teams that went on to win the Rose Bowl in 2012 and 2015. He also helped the baseball team reach the NCAA Super Regionals in 2014.

The starting strong safety for the Cardinal in 2014, his junior season, Hoffpauir earned All-Pac 12 honorable mention honors starting in 11 games and playing in 12. He ended the season with 44 total tackles, 25 solo and 4.0 for a loss to go with his five pass breakups. Hoffpauir entered his senior season as a Phil Steele third team preseason All-Pac 12 selection and ended up with 35 tackles on the year.

On the baseball diamond, Hoffpauir was a two-time All-Pac 12 honorable mention selection. He hit .324 with seven home runs and 35 RBI as a sophomore and was named to the Bloomington Regional All-Tournament team helping the Cardinal upset No. 4 national seed Indiana to advance to the Super Regionals.

Hoffpauir was drafted in the 22nd round (No. 646 overall) of the 2015 MLB Draft by his home state Arizona Diamondbacks. He went on to play for the team’s Class A short season affiliate the Hillsboro Hops.

In a podcast interview, Hoffpauir discussed how he overcame mental health issues. He spoke about the importance of playing soccer as a youth. He also discussed growing up in a conservative Christian family, as well as the importance of sports in his life. Hoffpauir also talked about being a multi-sport athlete and went through his sports career’s progression. What did he consider the key to hitting? “Don’t miss fastballs,” he said in the podcast.

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