Former SDSU Football Star Killed in Crash

A former San Diego State University star punter and Escondido High soccer and football standout was killed when his Audi slammed into a tree Sunday night.

Brian Simnjanovski, 27, was heading south on Valley Center Road when his car apparently swerved at Vesper Road, authorities told the North County Times. He died at the scene.

A real sports star of San Diego -- Simnjanovski had been an All-Valley League performer in both football and soccer for Escondido High and he had also been a star punter for the Aztecs. He played four seasons at SDSU from 2000 to 2002. He also made his mark in Europe, playing for the NFL Europe's Berlin Thunder. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave him a tryout as well as several other teams, the paper reported.

Soccer had been his first sport but he found success with football. Nick Ruscetta, his former coach at Escondido High, remembered watching Simnjanovski try out for the team.

"We had no kicking game," Ruscetta told the paper. "So the next Monday, he came to me and asked if he could kick for us. "I really didn't know him then, but we needed help. So he kicked a few balls out of sight, and we gave him a uniform."

And SDSU was glad to have him, too. Dave Ohten, then special teams coach for the Aztecs, said Simnjanovski was "a treasure" and knew he was special the first time he saw him play.

"The first time I saw him punt at that little tryout, I turned to Dave Schramm -- our recruiting coordinator at the time -- and said, 'My God, if we don't offer this kid a scholarship, we're crazy,' He was raw, but the ball came off his foot like a baseball player hitting a home run. He smashed the ball. He was a great young man, a great teammate. This is a huge loss for the Aztecs family," he told the paper.

Simnjanovski wasn't just any ordinary punter. He was the second best ever in Aztec history with an average of 42.8 yards on 55 punts in 2000, 43.6 yards on 63 punts in 2001 and 42.1 yards on 60 punts in 2002.

The cause for the crash is unknown, but California Highway Patrol told the paper that alcohol "is a consideration" and that "no conclusions had been made yet."

He is survived by his parents Djoko and Zorka Simnjanovski and his brother Riste.

Read the rest of the story here at the North County Times' website.

Contact Us