Although his on-field contributions were limited in his three seasons with the Patriots, defensive lineman Marquise Hill, whose body was found Monday, a day after he was reported missing following a Jet Ski accident in Louisiana, was remembered by players and coaches for the work he did behind the scenes and the laughs he often provided teammates.
"He worked hard and he was a funny guy," said defensive lineman Jarvis Green. "It's like Coach [Belichick] always says: 'Even if you're not on the field, you can still do a lot to help the team.' He was out there pushing guys in practice.
"He also liked to have fun and enjoy things. He always would say life is short. He could find anything, anywhere, and talk about it and make everybody laugh."
Green said one example of that came when all the defensive linemen gathered for their regular meetings.
"Everything might be quiet, and he'd have a joke," Green said. "I think that's something everyone will remember about him."
In a statement, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the franchise had "suffered a stunning and tragic loss."
"Marquise will be remembered as a thoughtful and caring young man who established himself as one of the year-round daily fixtures of our team," he said.
The 24-year-old Hill appeared in only 13 games, but former Patriot Dan Klecko recalled how he always would show up to work early, and add levity to tense situations.
"He was a guy that during a bad day, or if you were having a bad practice, he could give you that extra boost to get you through," Klecko said.
A native of New Orleans, Hill played for Louisiana State from 2001-03, and was one of five LSU players on the Patriots, joining Green, running back Kevin Faulk, cornerback Randall Gay, and linebacker Eric Alexander.
Gay, who entered the NFL along with Hill, was at Lake Pontchartrain when Hill's body was found.
"I know it's going to be hard in that locker room seeing his locker," Gay told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Hill regularly would return to LSU, and he often had keepsakes from his college days in his Gillette Stadium locker. The shoulder pads he wore in the pros were purple and yellow, LSU's colors, the same ones he wore in college.
"This is a sad day for the entire LSU family," LSU director of athletics Skip Bertman said. "Marquise helped bring the LSU football program to the level it is today and he remained close to the program even after his departure to the NFL. Our players looked up to him. He was truly LSU through and through."
Added Green: "He wore those colors with a lot of pride."
Hill also took great pride in being from Louisiana.
"He loved it, the little things like waking up in the morning and seeing alligators on the lawn," said Green, who also hails from Louisiana. "It's something different down there and I remember when he first purchased a house, he was so happy."
Green said Hill's character was revealed after Hurricane Katrina "completely destroyed" the home.
"He had to gut the house and start from scratch, and I remember him saying, 'God does different things to us' and how he wanted to redo the house anyway," Green said. "He always stayed positive."
Hill was a backup for all three seasons, playing behind two of the league's top defensive ends in Richard Seymour and Ty Warren.
Green said Hill sometimes would reflect on how hard he worked to become a pro, and how he grew up in a home without a father, with his mother raising him and his uncle being his father figure.
"He wouldn't sit here and be miserable," Green said. "He was a guy who always smiled."
Mike Reiss can be reached at email@example.com.