Former Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam, the 1994 Heisman Trophy winner and still considered to be among the greatest players in CU history, was found dead Monday night in a Boulder park.

He was 42. Boulder police said there were no signs of foul play.

Rashaan Salaam
Colorado’s Rashaan Salaam poses with the 1994 Heisman Trophy which he was awarded Saturday, Dec. 10, 1994, at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Nadel)

Salaam’s death stunned the entire Colorado football and university community.

“The Buff Family has lost an outstanding young man and a great Buff today,” Athletic Director Rick George said. “We are heartbroken for Rashaan and his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time.”

As a junior, Salaam led Bill McCartney’s 1994 Buffaloes to one of the best seasons in CU history, an 11-1 finish that included a 41-24 win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl and a No. 3 ranking in the final polls — still the second-best finish ever by a CU team.

“He was very coachable,” McCartney said. “He had a happy heart. I loved being around him. He didn’t take himself too seriously, and he always credited those around him, especially his offensive line. What I liked about him is that he had a sparkle in his eye. He was upbeat and positive.”

Salaam’s final season at CU produced a long list of records. He set the school scoring mark that season with 24 touchdowns and 144 total points; had nine consecutive 100-yard games, including a pair of 200-plus games; and his 317-yard effort in a 34-31 win over Texas is still the second-highest single-game total in CU history. Salaam also had 45 yards receiving in the game, giving him a CU-record 362 yards from scrimmage.

Salaam announced his decision to turn pro after CU’s Fiesta Bowl win and he became a first-round draft choice of the Chicago Bears (21st overall). He played three seasons for the Bears, winning NFC Rookie of the Year honors in 1995, when he ran for 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns.

He finished with career numbers of 1,682 yards rushing, 120 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns for the Bears. He also played briefly with Cleveland and Green Bay in 1999, but was hampered by knee and ankle injuries for much of his pro career.

Salaam was inducted into CU’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012 and was on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame for the first time in 2014.

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