Former Arizona offensive lineman Jeff Rinehart, a heralded recruit who was selected a Parade All-American his senior year in 1982 at Norristown, Pa., passed away Friday, according to a social media post by former teammate David Adams.
Rinehart, residing in Bridgeport, Pa., near Philadelphia, was 57. The reason for his death was not disclosed.
“May God bless him and his family,” Adams wrote. “Rest in peace, my brother. Love ya.”
Rinehart and his fraternal twin brother Jerome were recruited to Arizona by Larry Smith and his staff in 1983.
Much was reported about Jeff’s size when he first reported to Arizona following a 57-hour Greyhound bus trip from Pennsylvania. Jeff was 6-foot-2 and 329 pounds. Jerome, a tight end, was 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds.
Jeff’s nickname at Arizona was “Rhino,” which he said he did not mind as long as it was coming from the coaches and teammates.
“If somebody else comes up and calls me Rhino, I won’t answer them,” Jeff told Jack Magruder of the Arizona Daily Star in a 1985 article.
Jeff, who became an All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection in 1986, finished his Arizona career at 315 pounds.
While in Tucson, he had to overcome the sudden, unexpected death of his mother and the departure of his brother to Arizona Western College and later Tennessee State. He persevered through those situations, academic difficulties and his weight challenges.
After his Wildcat playing days concluded in 1987 — Dick Tomey’s first season at Arizona — he attended the Dallas Cowboys training camp as a non-drafted free agent and was released.
Rinehart studied psychology at Arizona and was employed by the Norristown State Hospital after returning home in 1990.