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Former Rutgers Football Player Johnathan Aiken Passes Away at 26

He died in a single car crash on Friday

Rutgers v Maryland Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Johnathan Aiken, the former defensive back who played in 34 games between the 2011 and 2014 seasons at Rutgers, died in a single car crash in Florida on Friday morning. Keith Sargeant of NJ Advance Media first reported the sad news on Friday afternoon.

Aiken was a key contributor for the Rutgers defense during his career and played in three bowl games. He started eight games at free safety during the 2014 season and registered a career high 51 tackles, 47 of which were solo. Aiken became the first Rutgers football player to earn Big Ten Honors for his effort in the season opening win at Washington State, when he produced 7 tackles, a forced fumble, and a pass deflection on fourth down to clinch the victory. He was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for that performance. In his last game at Rutgers, Aiken registered a career high 11 tackles in the Quick Lane Bowl win over North Carolina.

There was plenty that Aiken overcame in his life before ever arriving at Rutgers as a 3-star recruit from Florida. This 2013 profile by Steve Politi details the difficult childhood he overcame, as he found his mother murdered at the age of 3 and lived in foster care for years. The character and perseverance of Aiken was evident during his time at Rutgers and he was well liked by his teammates.

While the cause of the accident remains under investigation, the original report by an ABC affiliate in Florida is here.

Rest in peace, Johnathan Aiken, a loyal son gone far too soon.

Here are social media messages from former teammates and others associated with the program that knew Aiken: