Brandon Sanders, a former Arizona standout and current member of the football staff with the Wildcats, posted on social media this morning that former teammate Hicham El-Mashtoub has passed away at the age of 49.
Contacted this morning, Sanders mentioned that he’s been informed that El-Mashtoub’s death is related to cancer.
El-Mashtoub was a 295-pound center born in Beirut, Lebanon, and raised in Montreal, who played with the Wildcats under coach Dick Tomey from 1991-94.
He was occasionally viewed as reckless, yet engaging in a few fights during his Wildcat career.
I still cannot put into words how I feel with this. Hicham El-Mashtoub was a different character but you always knew he would FIGHT! He would throw mud in your eye and laugh as you got upset.. I wish I could see that devilish smile 1 more time. RIP Hich!! 🐻⬇️ Wildcats4Life 😢😢 pic.twitter.com/rEZPI1g7ym
— Brandon Sanders (@coachBSanders18) September 16, 2021
Sanders stated in his social media post, “I still cannot put into words how I feel with this loss. Hicham El-Mashtoub was a different character but you always knew he would FIGHT!! He would throw mud in your eye and laugh as you got upset.. I wish I could see that devilish smile one more time bro!! RIP Hich!! Wildcats4Life.”
Fellow offensive lineman Warner Smith, who passed away in 2018 from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), told former Arizona Daily Star reporter Anthony Gimino in a 1994 article: `If you’re not careful, he’ll put one right past you. He’ll make people do what he wants them to do without them knowing it.”
He developed into an engaging personality with many of the Arizona football alumni.
He was drafted in the sixth round of the 1995 draft by the Houston Oilers, and he spent two years with that franchise before completing his pro career with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL in 1999.
El-Mashtoub is one of many members of Arizona’s football team during the early 1990’s who have passed away.
Jim Hoffman, a defensive tackle who was part of Arizona’s Desert Swarm defense at that time, passed away in June at age 48.
Others to pass away include Smith, Akil Jackson, Mu Tugoai, Pulu Poumele, Troy Dickey and Chuck Osborne. Smith, Tugoai, Poumele and El-Mashoub were offensive linemen.
More information to come on the passing of El-Mashtoub.
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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