Former University of Tennessee defensive lineman Parys Haralson has passed away at the age of 37.
The Tennessee Athletics Department released a statement on Monday as former teammates simultaneously shared their thoughts on social media.
“The Tennessee Football family is mourning the sudden loss of VFL Parys Haralson,” Tennessee Athletics wrote on Twitter Monday night. “Haralson was a two-time captain for the Vols and finished his career 5th in program history with 21 sacks.”
Haralson, a University of Tennessee football player from 2002 to 2005, was also a sociology major in Knoxville.
“Can’t believe I’m writing this,” said Jabari Davis, a teammate of Haralson’s for three years, on Twitter. “I’m completely numb right now. I got a call an hour ago, still in shock; this one hurts bad.”
Haralson was a tremendous player on the football field but an even better all-around human being by all accounts.
Coming out of high school, the Mississippi native chose to go to Tennessee over schools like Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss. As a freshman at Tennessee in 2002, Haralson saw action in 13 games as a critical player in Tennessee’s rotation. The SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll member had 25 total tackles, 14 of which were solo. In 2003, Haralson did not begin the season in the starting rotation but was a key starter when the season was finished.
In his junior season, Haralson was named a team captain for the first time. He started 12 of the 13 games for the Vols and even recorded his first career touchdown on a scoop-and-score fumble recovery.
But it was his senior season in which Parys Haralson had the biggest impact for Tennessee on the field. Haralson had 45 tackles on the year, 33 of which were solo. He also had 8.5 sacks, leading Tennessee and ranking him fourth in the SEC as a whole. Haralson’s play earned him a spot as an All-SEC Second Team selection in 2005.
Haralson went to San Francisco via the 140th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL draft. Throughout his nine-year NFL career, Haralson spent time with two teams. The bulk of his time in the NFL came with the 49ers from 2006 to 2012. However, his final two seasons in 2013 and 2014 were in New Orleans after being traded before 2013.
While Haralson’s playing career may have ended in 2014, his time in the NFL did not.
Parys Haralson returned to San Francisco in 2016 and took a job as the 49ers Director of Player Engagement. He spent three seasons in that role with San Francisco before his time in the NFL was officially over.
The San Francisco 49ers also released a statement regarding Haralson’s death on Monday.
“The 49ers are heartbroken and shocked by the news of Parys’ tragic passing,” San Francisco said in a statement on Monday. “Parys was a beloved member of our organization that lived life with an extraordinary amount of passion and joy while leaving an indelible mark on everyone he came across. We extend our condolences to Parys’ family and loved ones.”
The cause of death of former Tennessee defensive lineman Parys Haralson is unknown at this time.