University of Nebraska senior tight end Brian Hiemer died today of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head, authorities said.

Hiemer, 21, apparently shot himself with a .22-caliber rifle Tuesday at the rural home of his parents, Willard and Loyola Hiemer, about four miles northeast of Shelby, Polk County Sheriff Tim Siemek said.

Hiemer was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and then transferred to University Hospital in Omaha, where he died at 10:30 a.m. today, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Hiemer, once cut because he was considered too small to play tight end, last season caught four touchdown passes -- more than any other Nebraska player. Hiemer, 6 feet 3 and 215 pounds, shared tight end duties last season with Todd Frain. He was expected to do the same this season.

Hiemer's father found the wounded player sitting against a farm building and reported the shooting shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday, officials said.

Nebraska fullback Tom Rathman said Hiemer was popular with his teammates. "Brian is a pretty quiet kid," he said, "but you would hear only good things about him from anybody."

Coach Tom Osborne went to the hospital Tuesday night to visit Hiemer, a two-year letterman at tight end, according to Don Bryant, Nebraska's sports information director.

Hiemer was a walk-on at Nebraska in 1981 and played that year with the freshman team, but was cut by a receivers coach who said he was too small to play tight end.

Hiemer was allowed to return to the team in 1982 and was redshirted that season. He was the eighth-team tight end at the end of spring practice in 1983 and rose to a position as a reserve.

Hiemer was a mechanized agriculture major with a 3.3 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale.

Chuck Pool, assistant sports information director, said today's scheduled photo day for the media and fans was postponed. Football practice is scheduled to begin Thursday.