Jim Hoffman, the unsung yet dominating defensive tackle who was part of Arizona’s Desert Swarm defense in the early 1990’s, has passed away at age 48, according to social media posts from former teammates Joe Smigiel and Brandon Sanders.
“Saddened to hear that Jim Hoffman passed last night,” Smigiel posted on Facebook on Tuesday morning. “He was a gentle giant off the field and a mean, skilled and aggression stud on the field. Was one of the best Dlineman on the Desert Swarm D!! He also was a great Teammate and friend. Rest in heaven big man. Give my guys Warner, Akil, Mu, Pulu, Troy and Chuck hugs from Smigs!!”
Smigiel is referring to Warner Smith, Akil Jackson, Mu Tugoai, Pulu Poumele, Troy Dickey and Chuck Osborne, all of whom have passed away.
RIP Big Hoff!! I truly miss you bro.. 💔🥺😢 pic.twitter.com/Z1PynGhOYu
— Brandon Sanders (@coachBSanders18) June 29, 2021
The cause of his death was not disclosed.
Hoffman, was not heavily recruited out of Spring Valley (Calif.) Mount Miguel High School, when he joined Dick Tomey’s program in 1990.
He evolved into a highly productive complement alongside Rob Waldrop, Tedy Bruschi, Ty Parten and Jimmie Hopkins on the defensive line, one that contributed to Arizona allowing only 65.1 rushing yards per game in 1992 and an unreal 30.1 yards rushing a game a season later.
Hoffman was one of the members of Desert Swarm on the famous cover of Sports Illustrated College Football Preview edition in 1994 that included Sanders, Bruschi, Tony Bouie and Sean Harris. The title was “Rock Solid — Arizona is No. 1.”
Anthony Gimino, then a reporter for The Arizona Daily Star, interviewed Hoffman about the photo shoot during Camp Cochise in 1994.
The Sports Illustrated photographer and Hoffman’s teammates waited at McKale Center for more than a half-hour for him to arrive.
“I wasn’t going to go,” Hoffman said. “I didn’t feel I was a major contributor to the Desert Swarm thing in the first place. That’s just my attitude toward it. I’m not into that stuff anyway.
“I figure, hell, throw some other people in there. If they are singling out people, they should single out Warner Smith (an offensive lineman). They could have singled out ‘Twan (running back Ontiwuan Carter), too. There are some good players on the offense. That’s the only problem I had with it.”
Bruschi said of Hoffman to Gimino: “Jim Hoffman is our quiet rage.”
Funeral arrangements have not yet been disclosed.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.