Last summer, Free State High senior Joe Dineen and Shawnee Mission West standout Andre Maloney received scholarship offers from Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis just minutes apart.
Maloney rushed out of Weis’ office as Dineen was set to head in, and the Free State safety could not help but think how cool it would be to play college football with a guy he had battled against so many times in high school.
Today, Dineen is forced to confront the fact that he never will see his once-future teammate again. Maloney died Friday evening at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., a day after he suffered a stroke and collapsed on the sideline following a long touchdown reception against Leavenworth.
“He would’ve been the type of player who came in and started as a true freshman,” said Dineen, whose Firebirds knocked off Maloney’s Vikings last week in a battle of the top two teams in the state. “He was that good, and I was really looking forward to going up to KU with another Sunflower League guy in the class. It’s just so sad that this happened. We were just on the field together, and he was doing great, running fast, doing what he does, and now this. It just goes to show how precious life is.”
Maloney, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound defensive back who committed to KU in late June, was the sixth-ranked player in Kansas, according to Rivals.com. When Maloney fell into a vegetative state on Friday and worsened throughout the day, his family released a statement explaining what took place Thursday night and that he was receiving care in the intensive care unit.
As Maloney fought for his life, several people connected with KU and Kansas City took to Twitter to voice their support. Kansas City Royals slugger Billy Butler was one. Dineen was another. And Weis, who is not allowed to comment on specific recruits until they sign with the school, also tweeted with a heavy heart. Late Friday, Weis released a statement that expressed just how big of an impact the tragedy made on the KU football program.
“We are absolutely devastated by the news of the passing of Andre Maloney,” Weis said. “Our hearts are broken at the loss of such an outstanding young man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his mother, Rosalita. We knew from the moment we met Andre just how special he was and he will never be forgotten. The Jayhawk family will forever hold Andre close to our hearts.”