Joe Orozco, Eastern Illinois University’s Director of Football Performance, and former Northwestern University Performance coach, passed away over the weekend.

Reactions from both schools were made public on Monday.

“Coach Orozco was such a vibrant member of our athletic staff and football program,” said EIU Athletic Director Tom Michael. “It was a shock to the system to hear the news that a young person that was so full of life and energy had passed away. He was someone that brought such passion for his work, our players and the EIU football program every day. His presence will truly be missed.”

Having spent just two years on the staff, Orozco was one of EIU head coach Adam Cushing’s first hires when he took over the Panthers program.

“I’m heartbroken and cannot find the words to express my feelings about Joe. He exuded passion and enthusiasm for the young men he served every minute of every day. Everyone in our program is fortunate for every second being influenced by him, me included.,” said Cushing. “Our entire program, and lives, will have an enormous void which will never be filled, but we will honor Joe the way I know he wants: together, as a family, with extreme passion for our opportunity each day.”

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald also released a statement.

“Our entire Wildcats family is devastated to learn of the passing of former football performance coach Joe Orozco. Aside from being a rising star in our game, Joe was a beloved colleague with boundless energy, and the type of person whose incredible attitude at any hour of the day picked up those around him. His spirit will live on through the countless individuals he impacted. Our thoughts, love and prayers are with Joe’s family, the entire Eastern Illinois Football program, and all those who adored him.”

Orozco, 30, played collegiate football at North Central College where he earned Academic All-Conference honors, and obtained his undergraduate degree in 2012. He earned his Masters Degree from Northwestern in 2017, and served as assistant director of football performance in 2018 and 2019 – he was hired at EIU in 2019.