RECEIVER coach Dave Nichol died Friday at the age of 45, less than a week after it was announced that he was stepping away this season to focus on his health.
The USC assistant football coach passed away in McKinney, Texas due to a "number of health issues," according to Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach.
“We are heartbroken and devastated,” USC head coach Lincoln Riley said in a statement.
He will be dearly missed. We, as a program, look forward to playing and coaching for him as we move forward."
In an emotional thread on Twitter, Riley said that he wouldn't be where he is today without Nichol's influence.
The cause of death has not yet been officially announced, but multiple reports claimed that Nichol had cancer.
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Riley had just announced on March 21 that an interim coach would be stepping in for Nichol, as he was away from the team to focus on a private medical matter.
On Tuesday, Riley said that there was "absolutely" hope that Nichol could return at some point.
"He's going through a tough deal, so just would ask the Trojan family for all their prayers for him," Riley had said.
Before starting his time at USC in December, Nichol had worked under Leach at Washington State and Mississippi State where he coached wide receivers.
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Leach spoke fondly of Nichol as his friend in a Twitter tribute, saying: "Dave had such a positive personality, attitude and energy.
"He made everyone around him a better person and impacted everyone he met with kindness, loyalty and friendship.
He meant a lot to me and countless others, and I will forever be grateful to have had him in my life for the last 22 years."
Nichol was a wide receiver as a student at Texas Tech, lettering in 1999.
He began his coaching career at his alma mater in 2000 as a student coach.
Nichol and Riley met when Nichol was a graduate assistant there from 2003 through 2005.
He earned his first full-time coaching job at Arizona in 2008, coaching outside receivers.
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Nichol and Riley also worked together at East Carolina University, where Nichol served as the outside receivers coach while Riley was the offensive coordinator.
Nichol is survived by his father and brothers.
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