Former University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, a 2007 Heisman Trophy finalist, died early Tuesday morning in Newport, California, according to ESPN. He was 37.
Terry Brennan, Colt Brennan’s father, told ESPN that his son ingested a substance laced with fentanyl and never regained consciousness. Paramedics were called Monday to a hotel room where Colt Brennan had been with other people.
Hours before he was found, Colt Brennan had tried to enter a detox program at a hospital but was turned away because there were no beds available, his father said.
“He was really into it,” Terry Brennan said of the treatment program, according to ESPN. “It involved a lot of physical activity and he liked it. He was working with soldiers who had come back from Afghanistan and Iraq with similar problems. He was doing quite well with it for four months. Then something happened and he went to the dark side, and it was just not good.”
A two-time Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year winner (2006, 2007), Brennan led the Rainbow Warriors to an undefeated regular season in 2007 before falling to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
Under coach June Jones, the air-raid Hawaii offense flourished with Brennan in control. He threw for 131 touchdowns over three seasons as a starter, but the 2006 campaign stands above the rest; Brennan threw 58 touchdowns (the second-most in single-season history) at 9.9 yards per attempt and a 72.6 completion percentage — and 5,549 passing yards. He finished sixth in the Heisman voting that year and third behind Tim Tebow and Darren McFadden in 2007.
Brennan’s 70.4 percent career completion percentage is best all time in the Division I ranks (minimum 875 attempts), while his three seasons with more than 4,000 passing yards and number of games 400 or more passing yards (20) are tied for most all time.
A southern California native, Brennan walked onto the University of Colorado’s team in 2003 but was kicked off the team that offseason following an incident that led to his conviction for burglary and trespassing (a guilty verdict for unlawful sexual contact was vacated).
Brennan always maintained his innocence, writing so in a recent Instagram caption for an April 13 post. He landed at junior college Saddleback before Jones offered him a walk-on spot at Hawaii.
Washington selected Brennan in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL draft, but he never appeared in a NFL game. He was arrested at least three times between 2012-20 following incidents usually involving alcohol.
“I’ve been through a lot in my life,” Brennan began the Instagram post. “I was a convicted felon for a crime I never committed, (passed polygraph and all). I captured every dream I had as a child. I was drafted into the league only to have 2 knee and 2 hip surgeries. I reached my 3rd year in the NFL, only to awake from a coma with traumatic brain injury as a passenger in a car accident. I battled drug and alcohol abuse, and eventually developed blood clots years after the car accident.”
Brent Brennan, Colt’s first cousin, is currently the head coach at San Jose State University.