A "drunk and belligerent" Notre Dame football recruit died in a fall from a fifth-floor hotel balcony during his spring break in Florida, authorities said Saturday.
Police said Matt James was dead when officers arrived about 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Days Inn Motel in Panama City Beach.
"It appears to be a tragic accident," Panama City Beach police Maj. David Humphreys said.
James, 17, was part of a group of about 40 students and six parents from St. Xavier, a school in Cincinnati.
"Witnesses and friends indicate he had become drunk and belligerent," Humphreys said. "He had leaned over the balcony rail, was shaking his finger at the people in the next room over. He fell over."
Police said an autopsy would be done. Toxicology results were pending.
Humphreys said the railing at the hotel met the standards for height and police would be interested in pursuing charges if they learn who provided the underage teen with alcohol.
James, a 6-foot-6, 290-pound all-state offensive lineman, was the first top signing for new Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. He originally planned to go to Cincinnati, where Kelly coached for the past three years.
"The Notre Dame football program is in a state of disbelief and incredible sadness with the news of this tragic event," Kelly said in a statement released by the school. "Matt was an extremely talented person who was very bright and possessed a great dry sense of humor. He could not wait to join the Notre Dame family."
James' parents went to Florida on Friday night, returned to Cincinnati and released a statement Saturday asking for privacy.
"We would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support during this tragic time, particularly the family at St. X," Jerry and Peggy James said. "Matt was a very special young man, and it is gratifying to us that you all could see that as well. We are touched by this outpouring of love."
Mourners remember FIU running back
HAINES CITY — A memorial service for Florida International running back Kendall Berry drew about 1,000 mourners, including coach Mario Cristobal and some teammates. Many wore T-shirts and buttons bearing his portrait.
Quentin Rashad Wyche, 22, is charged with second-degree murder. Police say he stabbed Berry, 22, who played at Haines City High, on March 25 during an argument involving Berry's girlfriend on the FIU campus in Miami. Last week's memorial at FIU drew about 1,400.
Alabama: Defensive back Dequan Menzie, a junior college transfer expected to compete for a starting job, will miss the season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon. He was hurt during a workout but ruptured it during a pick-up basketball game last week.
Purdue: Ralph Bolden, the team's leading rusher last season, sustained what coach Danny Hope called a "significant knee injury" and likely will miss this season. Hope said Bolden, who had 935 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore, "was making a fast, sharp cut" when he hurt his right knee.