Mike Kudla, an All-Big Ten defensive end and Ohio State’s defensive most valuable player in 2005, has died at the age of 34, according to a press release from his former school district.

Highland Local Schools posted on Twitter on Monday that Kudla died unexpectedly Sunday.

Kudla graduated from Highland High School in Medina in 2002. Ohio State won the national championship his freshman season as a Buckeye and two Big Ten titles during his career. In his college finale, he had three sacks in Ohio State’s Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame.

He signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent, but injuries ended his career prematurely. Kudla returned to Ohio State and in 2012 was named managing director of development for the Fisher School of Business.

He later became owner of Core Plex, which builds medical facilities. Kudla also worked with the NFL on protocols for chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Dustin Fox, one of Kudla's Ohio State teammates, tweeted, "RIP Mike. We all lost a brother and great friend today. He was the ultimate war daddy. One of baddest dudes I’ve ever played with, but also one of the most kind and genuine guys you could ever meet. Prayers go out to the Kudla family during this difficult time."

Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said in a statement: "Mike Kudla was a special young man. His love of family, OSU, and country was so strong. Our heart aches for the Kudla family, his friends, teammates, and entire Buckeye Nation."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

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