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SAD NEWS: As tennessee key player is dead.

LaDarrell McNeil, who started 41 games for Tennessee Vols football, dies at 27.

LaDarrell McNeil, who started 41 games at safety for Tennessee football from 2012-15, has died. He was 27.

UT confirmed McNeil’s death on Twitter.

“We are mourning the loss of VFL LaDarrell McNeil. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and his teammates. LaDarrell will be dearly missed.”

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McNeil was known for playing downhill at Wilmer-Hutchins High School in Dallas, which was the reason he was a four-star recruit and the No. 6 safety in the nation by 247Sports and a Parade All-American in 2011. He recorded 124 tackles as a senior — a gaudy average of 13.8 per game — after piling up 148 as a junior.

McNeil was the first member of Tennessee’s 2012 freshman class to win a starting job and was named to the Freshman All-SEC team. He started the final seven games of the season at strong safety and finished fifth on team in tackles with 58.

As a sophomore he started all 12 games and was fourth on the team with 54 tackles. He also had an interception and fumble recovery.

The Vols fired Derek Dooley after the season and hired Butch Jones. It meant McNeil would play under his third defensive coordinator in three seasons. He was sometimes lost in the system, which often led to him running himself out of plays and being burned by receivers in coverage..

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As a junior, McNeil had to earn a starting spot before the season started and finished fourth on the team with 76 tackles.  He made two interceptions, including one in the end zone against Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

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