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Mitchell said he was “crushed” by Finnerty’s death, especially considering the family he left behind, a wife and two young children.
“It was a pretty quiet bus ride home,” he said.
Finnerty, a star at Brighton High School, accepted an offer to play at the University of Toledo but transferred to Grand Valley after the 2001 season. He briefly was a member of the Baltimore Ravens and later the Denver Broncos but never got a snap.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was Grand Valley’s coach during the 2003 national championship season.
“It’s very chilling,” Kelly said Tuesday, before Finnerty’s body was found. “He led me to a national championship as a true freshman. When I left, coach Martin took over and won two more national championships. My heart goes out to the family and to his beautiful wife.”
AP reporters Tom Coyne in South Bend, Ind., and David N. Goodman and Mike Householder in Detroit contributed to this story.
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