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Irish coach makes statement on tragedy

Matt James will not get the chance to chase his dreams.

The Notre Dame football recruit died Friday in Panama City, Fla., after he fell from a third-floor balcony.

James, 17, was on spring break with friends when the accident happened.

“The Notre Dame football program is in a state of disbelief and incredible sadness with the news of this tragic event,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Matt James in this most trying of times.”

James was the Irish’s first impact recruit under Kelly.

The 6-foot-6, 291-pound offense tackle from Cincinnati’s St. Xavier High School chose Notre Dame over Ohio State on signing day. He earned USA Today first-team All-America honors and participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

“On a personal level, I got to know Matt quite well over the past few years, and he was a wonderful young man from a great family,” Kelly said. “Matt was an extremely talented person who was very bright and possessed a great dry sense of humor. He could not wait to join the Notre Dame family.

“My prayers and deepest condolences go out to the James family as well as the St. Xavier High School and Cincinnati communities.”

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