Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

Monday, April 23, 2018 5:10 pm

Former Irish football player Schwenke dies

Staff, news services

Kona Schwenke, a former Notre Dame defensive lineman and winner of the program's Next Man In Award in 2013, died Sunday at his home in Laie, Hawai'i. He was 25.

Schwenke was a member of coach Brian Kelly's first recruiting class at Notre Dame and started nine games in his Irish career, making 23 tackles as a senior in 2013. 

"Kona was an extremely caring young man who always thought of his family, friends and teammates before himself," Kelly wrote on Twitter Monday. "He had such a welcoming personality to everyone. My heart truly aches for his family."

The 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman went undrafted in 2014, but spent time on the practice squads of the Chiefs, Patriots and Jets. He was also with the Seattle Seahawks for a season, on their injured reserve after tearing his ACL in a preseason game. 

A number of his former Notre Dame teammates have expressed sadness at Schwenke's death on social media, including All-American defensive end Stephon Tuitt.

“I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at if it wasn’t for this dude Kona, who was my host at Notre Dame for my recruiting visit,” Tuitt wrote via Instagram. “He will forever be that cherishable memory for me.”

"I'm sad I wasn't able to relive those moments and memories with you since then my dog and that hurts. Love you man."

-The Journal Gazette