Former Ohio State defensive end and 2002 Highland High School graduate Mike Kudla, 34, has passed away according to a the Highland Local School District.
Kudla ranks 14th on the all-time sack leaders list for Ohio State and was a member of the 2002 National Champion team. Kudla was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006.
While his NFL career was cut short by injuries, Kudla remained active in sports medicine, working with the NFL on CTE-protocols.
No cause of death has been released.
The following is the notification posted to the Highland High School Facebook page:
Dear Highland Parents and Friends,
We were informed this morning that Mike Kudla passed away unexpectedly yesterday, Sunday, July 15. He was 34.
Mike was a proud 2002 graduate of Highland High School. An honor student and four-year letter winner, he left Highland with over 500 career tackles and was named to several All-America teams. He was a graduate of The Ohio State University and a member of the 2002 National Championship Team under Coach Jim Tressel, a two-time Big Ten Champion, First Team All-Big Ten, and 2005 Team Defensive MVP. Mike capped off his Ohio State career with a three-sack performance in a win over Notre Dame and ranks 14th in Ohio State history for career sacks.
After his career in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike embraced his entrepreneurial spirit and began a career in insurance and risk management. After several years, the opportunity arose to join The Ohio State University and, in 2012, Mike was named Managing Director of Development for the Fisher College of Business. Most recently, he was the owner of Core Plex, where he developed and built medical facilities all over the country. He was also working with the NFL on protocols for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is a neurodegenerative disease found in people who have experienced multiple head injuries.
Despite his success on and off the football field, Mike remained humble and was extremely generous with his time and resources. He was always willing to share his experience and mentor youth. He was loved and respected by many and will be missed terribly.
The Kudla's have been long-time members of the Highland community. His mother, Mary Fran, worked at Highland Schools for 20 years, retiring in July 2017, and remains the director of the Highland Community Education program.
Mary Fran and her husband, Paul, reside in Montville Township and have four other children, Brian ('98), Katie ('00), Eric ('05, also employed at Highland Schools) and Emily ('09).
Most of us cannot begin to imagine the depth of grief that their family is going through right now. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Funeral arrangements are pending. We will keep you informed as more information becomes available.
Director of Communications
Highland Local School District
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