Adam Gress — a former Penn State offensive lineman who helped protect Christian Hackenberg and keep the Nittany Lion program together — died at the age of 26 inside his Dormont home Thursday.
According to numerous reports, including both 247 Sports and WTAE, which cited family members, Gress was believed to have hit his head and fallen inside the home. However, the official cause of death has not been released.
“I will always remember Adam Gress as being one of the goofiest guys in the locker room,” former Penn State safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong wrote on Twitter. “Deeply hurt by what has (happened). My condolences go out to his family.”
Former cornerback Stephon Morris added on Twitter: “Not only was he a great teammate, but an awesome friend. ... Gress, I love you man. This one hurts to the core.”
Gress, a West Mifflin native who could’ve left Penn State freely in 2012 following NCAA sanctions, started at right tackle as a fifth-year senior in 2013. He blocked during Hackenberg’s freshman season, in which the quarterback threw for 2,955 yards and 20 touchdowns under Bill O’Brien.
Gress — known affectionately as “Sasquatch” — was known off the field as much as he was on it.
The 6-foot-7, 320-pound presence with long, Thor-like blonde hair was easily recognized on campus. He was also a face in the community, serving as an officer for Penn State’s Uplifting Athletes chapter. Gress was proud of the contributions he and his teammates made in furthering the fight against rare diseases.
“We have such a big stage at the college level,” Gress told the CDT in November. “To have those good things going on, and it’s not just some fake, ‘Oh, a couple kids stopped by the hospital.’ No, Penn State football raises money and makes a difference. It goes a long way.”
Gress — who graduated from Penn State with a degree in telecommunications and journalism — signed a rookie contract with the New York Giants following his Penn State career, but didn’t stick with the team.
The former Nittany Lions was working as a construction site manager at the time of his passing, according to the 247 Sports report.
Gress and his fiance, Angela Torchia, had a wedding date set for the summer of 2018.