Devon Wylie, a former Granite Bay High School football star whose speed and love of the game landed him a full scholarship to Fresno State and stints in the NFL, has died. He was 35.
Wylie’s family and officials at Fresno State confirmed his death, though the cause was unknown as of Tuesday afternoon.
Wylie was a Sacramento Bee All-Metro player for Granite Bay in 2006, when he was the MVP of the Sierra Foothill League as a runner out of the Grizzlies’ fly offense. He signed a scholarship deal with Fresno State, where he played receiver over five seasons, overcoming injuries to change games with breakaway plays.
He caught 98 passes for 1,327 yards and eight touchdowns at Fresno State. He was also a feared punt return specialist. He had 29 returns for 446 yards and two scores as a senior in 2011, when he was a third-team All-American.
When Wylie clocked a 4.36-second 40-yard dash in the pre-draft NFL Scouting Combine in 2012, his stock soared. He once told The Bee: “Speed kills. That’s how I’ll make it in pro ball.”
The Kansas City Chiefs selected Wylie in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. He was good enough to be in the NFL, but he was not able to stick long with teams, a victim of a numbers game in which waves of new players come and go.
Wylie played with the Chiefs and Tennessee Titans in 2013. He had practice squad stints with six additional teams over two seasons, including the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. His final season of pro ball was in 2016 with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
“It’s been rough, man,” Wylie told The Bee in December 2013, when the 49ers signed him to the practice squad. “I know a lot of teams have been bringing me on to these practice squads, basically as an extended tryout. And for one reason or another, they need to bring in another guy because someone gets hurt. And I get booted. If they keep me, they’re going to get my best.”
Wylie was known for his personality, his humor, his love of family and his passion to play guitar.