Panthers’ former first-rounder Rashard Anderson dies at 45

Former Carolina Panthers’ first-round pick Rashard Anderson died at 45 years old.

Jackson State University, where Anderson was a corner from 1996-1999 and inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame, announced Anderson’s death Thursday. No cause was given.

“Today is a sad day for the JSU family,” Jackson State vice president/director of athletics Ashley Robinson said in a statement. “Rashard was one of the best players in the history of our football program and an outstanding person. He attended our spring football game in April and was excited about the program returning to championship status. Rashard will always be remembered by Jackson State University, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”

After an outstanding college career at JSU, Anderson was selected No. 23 overall in the 2000 draft by the Panthers. However, his pro career lasted just two seasons. He was suspended in 2002 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. After being reinstated and released by Carolina, Anderson was not signed by any other club.

Anderson played 27 games for the Panthers, making nine starts and earning 75 tackles, with three career fumble recoveries (one for a TD) and an interception.

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