A freshman football player at Portland State died Sunday evening after having minor surgery—and his father says he's blaming himself. AJ Schlatter, 20, apparently suffered a blood clot after his tonsils were removed. "I failed my son tonight," his father, James Schlatter, writes on Facebook, per Bleacher Report. "I could not [resuscitate] him nor did the best efforts by ems and the emergency room staff. AJ Schlatter passed away approximately 9:15 Sunday evening." Little else is known, but Schlatter's father also expressed pride in the linebacker who went from walk-on to full scholarship with his widely hailed work ethic, ESPN reports.
"In his 20+ years he became a greater man then I could ever dream of becoming," James Schlatter writes. AJ proved himself on the field, making 62 tackles and earning Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week honors after the Vikings beat Eastern Washington in November. He was also an "incredible leader" who "busted his rear end, day after day," and was "always humble, nice, classy, appreciative," a PSU social studies teacher tells the Portland Tribune. Other tributes are coming in from officials at the school, where James Schlatter was an assistant football coach and AJ's mother, Terri Jo, is in the athletics hall of fame for her time with the volleyball team. "Things like this aren't supposed to happen," says PSU athletic director Mark Rountree. "[AJ] will be missed." (A tonsillectomy-gone-wrong features prominently in the high-profile case of Jahi McMath.)