WARREN, Ohio — Former Syracuse tailback Walter Reyes, second all-time on the school’s rushing list, has died, according to the Trumbull County Coroner’s office. He was 36.
Reyes, who was honored Monday night in the Carrier Dome with a moment of silence before the men’s basketball game between Syracuse and Maryland, died Sunday night after complaining of stomach pain for several days. He died at Trumbull Memorial Hospital, the coroner’s office said.
A coroner’s report to determine the cause of death will be completed in eight to 10 weeks.
A star in high school in Struthers, Ohio, the 5-foot-10, 210-pound Reyes ran low and used his impressive power, acceleration, cutting ability and breakaway speed to befuddle defenders. He played for the Orange from 2001-04 and was a first-team All-Big East selection his senior season. He finished his college career with 3,424 yards rushing, behind only Joe Morris (4,299) at Syracuse.
As a junior in 2003, Reyes rushed for 1,347 yards, the second-best total in Syracuse history, and had a school-record 20 touchdowns, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. That prompted the university to promote him for the Heisman Trophy the following year.
Among his career highlights was a five-touchdown performance against Notre Dame in 2003, which tied Floyd Little for second all-time at Syracuse, one behind Jim Brown’s six against Colgate in 1956.
His final game in the Carrier Dome ended on a somber note. Reyes was hit hard by Pitt safety Tez Morris on a run up the middle and the collision tore three muscles behind Reyes’ right shoulder. After missing more than three games late in his final season with the Orange, Reyes was not selected in the NFL Draft and returned to his Ohio roots.
Reyes was married and working as a personal trainer and also part-time at a florist in Youngstown, Ohio, according to the Post-Standard in Syracuse.
The family set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to cover funeral costs. A candlelight vigil will be held Friday night at Struthers High School, according to a Facebook post by his stepdaughter, Jazmynelee Irizarry.