Record-setting Hawaii QB Colt Brennan dies at age 37

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A college football legend has died.

Reports out of Hawaii emerged Tuesday with some horrific news: Colt Brennan has died at the age of 37. Brennan set records as the quarterback at the University of Hawaii from 2005 to 2007 before going on to a brief NFL career.

Brennan’s father, Terry Brennan, confirmed the news to the Hawaii Star-Advertiser and said his son was being treated at a rehabilitation center for five months. On Monday, however, Brennan was found unconscious at a hotel room. He died at a hospital in California on Tuesday morning.

Terry Brennan told ESPN that his son had "ingested something laced with fentanyl and never regained consciousness." Earlier that day, Colt attempted to enter a detox center but was turned away because of a lack of available beds. 

"He was really into it," Terry Brennan told 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."

Terry Brennan told the Star-Advertiser that his son died “peacefully” surrounded by family:

“He was doing so well, the spark was back in his eyes, and he was healthy and doing great, and it happened,” Terry Brennan said.

The elder Brennan said his son was in the fifth month of an in-patient treatment program.

“He had been doing really well,” Brennan said. “These guys were no-nonsense guys. It just got away from him. I don’t know how else to explain it. Maybe one day I’ll be able to explain it better.”

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Brennan had record-setting college football career

Brennan, following a year in junior college, landed at Hawaii in 2005 and quickly earned the starting job under head coach June Jones. The Rainbow Warriors went 5-7 in Brennan’s first year as the starter before he led the team to consecutive double-digit win seasons in 2006 and 2007.

In 2006, Hawaii won 11 games while Brennan put up eye-popping numbers. In 14 games, Brennan threw for 5,549 yards and 58 touchdowns while completing 72.6% of his throws. His passing yardage from that season is the seventh-most in FBS history while his number of touchdown passes was an FBS record until Joe Burrow tossed 60 TDs in 2019.

** FILE ** Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan (15) celebrates after defeating Boise State 39-27 in their college football game in Honolulu, in this Nov. 23, 2007 file photo. The four Heisman finalists were announced Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007. They are Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. (AP Photo/Ronen Zilberman)
Former Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan died Monday at age 37. (AP Photo/Ronen Zilberman)

Brennan finished sixth in the Heisman voting that season, bypassed the NFL draft and returned on the national radar in 2007. That year, Brennan led the Warriors to their first-ever outright Western Athletic Conference championship. Brennan threw for 4,343 yards and 38 touchdowns and finished third in the Heisman voting. He became the first Hawaii player to finish as a Heisman finalist.

Hawaii went a perfect 8-0 in conference play and completed an undefeated 12-0 regular season by beating Washington. The Warriors rose to No. 10 in the AP poll and earned an invitation to the Sugar Bowl against Georgia, a game UGA won 41-10.

Brennan finished his college career with 14,193 yards and 131 touchdowns through the air. He currently ranks No. 2 in FBS history in passing yards per game, No. 5 in career passing TDs and No. 8 in career passing yards. In all, Brennan "broke or tied 31 NCAA records upon completion of his three-year career," according to Hawaii Athletics.

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After his college career, Brennan was selected in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL draft by the Washington Football Team. He spent two seasons with Washington, had a brief stint with the Oakland Raiders in 2010 before spending time playing arena football and in the Canadian Football League.

After his playing career ended, Brennan had several run-ins with law enforcement, including multiple arrests for drunk driving. He also sustained serious injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, in a 2010 car crash.

Terry Brennan told ESPN that his son was "never the same" after the car accident. 

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