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Former Newberry offensive lineman Benedict found dead at home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Heath Benedict, a two-time Little All-American offensive lineman from Newberry College in South Carolina, was found dead on a couch in his home.

Jacksonville police said no foul play is suspected in the death of the 24-year-old Benedict, a 6-foot-6, 326-pounder who finished up his senior season in the fall and left school to train for next month's NFL Draft. He was nine hours short of a business degree.

Benedict took part in the Senior Bowl in January, the first Division II player to do so since 2004, and was invited to last month's NFL Combine.

"He was a big, tough man, but he had a very gentle heart," Newberry president Mick Zais said. "He was a teddy bear."

Benedict, who redshirted at Tennessee in 2002 before moving to Newberry, was a native of the Netherlands. He played high school football at the Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J.

Jacksonville police spokesman Ken Jefferson said Benedict's body was taken to the medical examiner's office to determine the cause of his death. He was found dead Wednesday evening.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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