Former Ohio State defensive end and All-Big Ten player Mike Kudla passed away unexpectedly Sunday at the age of 34.
The former Buckeye and Highland High School product was known for his strength on and off the football field, overcoming a rare illness – Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis – in 2003 and resuming his career with Ohio State.
Highland Local Schools released a statement on his passing Monday afternoon.
Highland Local Schools Official Release on the Passing of Mike Kudla.— Nicholas A. Kovach (@TheKovach) July 16, 2018
Our prayers are with his family during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/T3EUtJnAc7
Kudla, who played for the Buckeyes from 2002-2005, won a national championship as a freshman with Ohio State and went on to become one of the strongest players ever to play in Columbus. He still holds the OSU football record for max bench press at 610 pounds and at one time, held the NFL Combine record for most reps.
In 2003, Kudla was read his last rites after being diagnosed with Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, a rare illness that causes high fever and severe eye damage. Kudla lost nearly 50 pounds before beating the illness and returning to Columbus for his sophomore season.
Kudla's final game as a Buckeye was the best of his career, as he collected three sacks in a win over Notre Dame in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl. He went on to spend time with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL before his football career came to an end.
In 2017, Kudla was named to Columbus Business First's 40 Under 40 list for his work with Hplex Solutions in Columbus.