'Heartbroken': Sporting world rocked by death of 26-year-old star

Zach Hoffpauir was a star in football and baseball. Images: Twitter

Zach Hoffpauir, a two-sport standout at Stanford who earned All-Pac 12 honours as a safety in football and played two seasons in the Arizona Diamondbacks minor league system, has died at age 26.

The University of Northern Colorado, where Hoffpauir was hired in February as an assistant football coach in charge of the safeties, said Hoffpauir died in his sleep on Thursday.

YIKES: Footballer narrowly avoids disaster after stunt goes wrong

The school provided no further details.

“I am devastated by the loss of Zach Hoffpauir, a friend to me and my family since his playing days with my son Christian at Stanford,” Bears new head football coach said on Friday.

“He was like a brother to our boys and recently found his calling as our safeties coach at Northern Colorado.

“He was a young, intelligent coach with limitless potential.”

Chris Finke of Notre Dame is tackled by Zach Hoffpauir of the Stanford Cardinal in 2016. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Tributes flow after death of Zach Hoffpauir

Hoffpauir, who was from Glendale, Arizona, was close friends with McCaffrey’s son, Christian, who’s now an All-Pro running back for the Carolina Panthers, when they both attended Stanford.

Christian McCaffrey paid tribute to Hoffpauir on his Instagram account Friday.

“Yesterday Heaven gained an angel, and I lost one of my best friends in the world,” he wrote.

He called Hoffpauir “a true friend and great brother to anyone he knew. He was a walking example of how to care for people, a rare soul.”

Hoffpauir was a safety for four seasons on the Cardinal football team, winning three Pac-12 titles and two Rose Bowls.

He also starred as an outfielder on Stanford’s baseball team and was drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2015.

Hoffpauir played two seasons of minor league ball, in 2015 and 2018, hitting .224 with three homers and nine RBIs in 107 at-bats in rookie and Class-A ball.

At Stanford, his three-year totals were 11 homers, 58 RBIs and a career .295 batting average.