Former Syracuse running back Walter Reyes, who was second on the school’s all-time rushing list, died on Sunday night at the age of 36, according to the Trumbull County Coroner’s office. Reyes had been experiencing stomach pain for several days before he was taken to the hospital, where he passed away shortly after.
A Stellar Career at Syracuse
Reyes was a star player for the Syracuse Orange from 2001 to 2004, where he amassed 3,424 rushing yards and 45 touchdowns in his four seasons. He was named to the All-Big East first team in 2003 and 2004, and was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s best running back, in 2003. He also set a school record with six touchdowns in a game against Central Florida in 2004.
Reyes ranks second only to Joe Morris in Syracuse’s career rushing list, and is fourth in career scoring with 276 points. He also holds the school record for most 100-yard rushing games with 19. He was honored by the Syracuse University Letterwinner of Distinction in 2016, and was inducted into the Greater Youngstown Football Hall of Fame in 2017.
A Brief Stint in the NFL
Reyes was signed by the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2005, but was released before the regular season. He played in two preseason games for the Titans, where he had five carries and one catch for six yards. He also spent time with the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears, but never made it to the active roster.
Reyes later played in the Canadian Football League for the Edmonton Eskimos and the Montreal Alouettes, and in the Arena Football League for the Utah Blaze and the Orlando Predators. He retired from professional football in 2010.
A Loving Family Man and a Mentor
Reyes was living in Campbell, Ohio, outside Youngstown, where he was married and helped raise his wife’s four children. He worked as a personal trainer for young football players and at a flower shop, according to ESPN. He was also involved in his community, volunteering at local schools and churches.
Reyes was remembered by his former teammates, coaches, and fans as a humble, hard-working, and talented player who always had a smile on his face. He was also a mentor and a role model for many young athletes who looked up to him.
Reyes was honored by a moment of silence at the Carrier Dome on Monday night, before the men’s basketball game between Syracuse and Maryland. He is survived by his wife, four stepchildren, his mother, his brother, and his sister.
The Cause of Death Remains Unknown
The cause of Reyes’ death is still under investigation by the coroner’s office, which will conduct an autopsy and toxicology tests to determine the exact cause and manner of death. According to FOX Sports, Reyes had been complaining of stomach pain for several days, but did not seek medical attention until Sunday night, when he was at his mother’s house. He was transported to the Trumbull Memorial Hospital, where he died shortly after.
Reyes’ family and friends are asking for prayers and support during this difficult time. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover the funeral costs, according to the Tennessee Titans. The page describes Reyes as someone who “loved his family and he loved football more than anything in the world.”