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January 7, 2007
Mark Danelo, RIP

As CQ readers know, I am a rabid Notre Dame fan and have a lot of fun taking shots at our nemesis, USC. However, we know that this is all in the fun of a classic rivalry and that the game brings us together more than anything else. When tragedy strikes, no one remembers the rivalry, but we all mourn the loss of those far too young to leave us. Yesterday, USC's reliable place kicker Mark Danelo was found dead, apparently after having fallen off of a cliff in San Pedro:

Southern California kicker Mario Danelo was found dead Saturday about 120 feet down a rocky cliff near Point Fermin lighthouse in the city's San Pedro section.

The body was reported by a passer-by at about 4:30 p.m., said Martha Garcia of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Danelo, the 21-year-old son of former NFL kicker Joe Danelo, appeared to have suffered traumatic injuries, Garcia said.

Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said investigators didn't find a surf board, scuba-diving tanks or anything else at the scene to indicate Danelo might have been down there for any recreational activities common to the area.

Humphrey said a handful of people had fallen from the cliff over the years.

"It's entirely possible that he fell," he said.

Danelo played a key role in USC's success this year. He scored 89 points, highest on the team, by going 15-for-16 on field goal attempts and 44-of-48 for extra points. He kicked two field goals to help USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, and had another year of eligibility to help his team vie for yet another national championship in 2007. Amazingly, Danelo made the team as a walk-on in 2003 and only won a full scholarship in 2005. He holds the NCAA record for PATs in a season, a mark he set last year by going 83-of-86.

What a blow for the Danelo family, USC, and all of college football. Our prayers go to his family and friends. I'm sure someone will be burning a candle for Mark at the grotto in South Bend by the time today's over.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 7, 2007 10:25 AM

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