Matt James


CINCINNATI (AP) — A star high school football player from Ohio who was recruited by Notre Dame died after falling from a hotel balcony while on spring break in Florida, a high school spokesman said.

Students at St. Xavier High School gathered on the football field Friday night to remember senior Matt James following reports of his death in Panama City Beach, Fla., spokesman Mark Motz said Saturday. James, 17, apparently died instantly after he fell from the third-floor balcony of the Days Inn Motel at around 6:30 p.m. Friday, police told WJHG-TV in Panama City.

Police had not confirmed James' identity as of Saturday morning, but Motz said the school was "devastated" by the news. Motz said the impromptu vigil was organized as word of James' death spread through social-networking sites such as Facebook.

"When one of their own is in trouble, they band together," Motz said.

Whit Majors, a forensic investigator with the Florida State Medical Examiner's District 14 office, said the person who died was on spring break but did not release his name. The cause of the fall was being investigated, and officials planned to do toxicology tests, Majors said.

The 6-foot-6, 290-pound offensive lineman was an all-city and all-state football player for St. Xavier and signed a letter of intent Feb. 2 to play for Notre Dame. He also was a member of the high school's varsity basketball team.

James' family received the news at a gathering to celebrate the 50th birthday of an uncle, according to Dan Rudolph, who attended the gathering and whose son Kyle Rudolph is a Notre Dame tight end.

"His mom and dad were here when they got the call," Dan Rudolph told the Chicago Tribune. "The whole James family was here. I can't believe that happened."

James isn't the first spring breaker to die from a balcony fall this year. Brandon Kohler, a 19-year-old from Winder, Ga., died March 24 when he fell from a fifth-floor balcony at the Holiday Terrace Motel in Panama City Beach.

Funeral arrangements were pending. Motz said the school would take its cues from James' family, noting that St. Xavier is on spring break until April 12.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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to the family of Matt, you have my greatest sympathy, love to the family.

there are no words to ease the pain that cuts your hearts to pieces. may your beautiful matt rest in peace.


To the James family,sorry for the loss of dear Matt. Our prayers are with you all. Ecclesiastes 9:11 God says that unforseen occurrence befalls us all.

Dear family, I send my deepest sympathy to you for your lost. I hope God's promises will bring comfort to you. Isaiah 25:7, 8

Dear James Family and Friends,
I am truly sorry about the passing of your son. There is no bond as great as the one between a parent and a child. Matt was so young, so talented, and had such a bright and promising future but God had something far more important for him to do. God never makes mistakes. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you grieve and prepare to send Matt to his new home.