CSU-Pueblo defensive coordinator dies following long battle with cancer

Published: Jul. 5, 2020 at 2:01 PM MDT
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CSU-Pueblo defensive coordinator Donnell Leomiti has passed away following a lengthy battle with cancer.

Leomiti was diagnosed in 2013 with stage 4 pancreatic neuroendocrine carcinoma. He lost his fight Saturday nearly seven years after that diagnosis.

"Leo was one of the first guys I called to take the challenge on of building Pack Football. I appreciate every second of every day that I was being able to work with him. I appreciate his attitude of developing young men and holding them accountable. Not only by his words, but by his actions. No woe is me moments. Knowing the amount of pain he was in the last two weeks, it's comforting to know that he is able to rest in peace, be in a better place, and be able to run with Tundra," said CSU-Pueblo Head Coach John Wristen in a statement Sunday.

Leomiti joined Pack football when the program was re-formed in 2008. He continued coaching the Thunderwolves even after his diagnosis, helping to lead them to a national championship in 2014. According to the team's website, Leomiti has helped coach nine defensive players to All-American awards, 15 to All-Region honors, and 38 to All-RMAC selections.

The university's strength and conditioning facility was also named for Leomiti.

"In the fall of 2013 Coach Leomiti became ill and made 15 separate trips to the Emergency Room before he received a diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic neuroendocrine carcinoma. He spent over a month in the hospital fighting for his life and endured four surgeries to remove large parts of his internal organs. He continues to battle every day with the strong spirit of a fighter. Instead of asking, 'Why me?' Coach Leomiti thanks God for the strength to endure, for the love and support of his family, and for the opportunity to help and encourage others," the facility's website reads.

Leomiti played football at Colorado University. The Pack's website lists Leomiti as a Buffs freshman during the 1992 season. He played both wide receiver and safety during his time in Boulder. Leomiti racked up 159 career tackles, with three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and seven pass deflections. He was on the field for the famous “The Miracle in Michigan" game in 1994, picking up fumble recovery in the fourth quarter.

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