A Tennessee State University freshman player collapsed on the field during Wednesday’s practice and was pronounced dead at Baptist Hospital later in the day.
The walk-on football player, William Wayne Jones III, collapsed during a non-contact practice and died at the hospital later, according to TSU coach Rod Reed.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Jones was 19 and was a freshman defensive back who hadn’t played any games because he was red-shirted.
He caught a football toward the beginning of practice and was returning it to defensive backs coach Ed Sanders when he suddenly collapsed Reed recalled:
“We didn’t think it was anything serious, but the trainers checked on him right away.”
The trainers got to Jones and found him unconscious with no pulse. They tried to revive him while waiting for an ambulance, but the freshman player was pronounced dead at 5:50 pm.
TSU sophomore safety Daniel Fitzpatrick, who said that he and Jones were close friends, stated:
“To see him go down and stay down was a hurtful sight. When a player goes down you never know. Sometimes they jump right back up and sometimes they don’t. Either way it always gets your attention.”
USA Today notes that coach Rob Reed called William Wayne Jones II to let him know that the entire football team, plus coaches, wanted to attend the freshman player’s funeral. Jones immediately began altering funeral plans.
Coach Reed stated that all 86 players on the Tigers’ roster, plus its coaching staff, will be attending the service no matter when it is scheduled despite their scheduled game to end the season on November 17. Reed added:
“I spoke with the dad and he was trying to make arrangements around the game. That’s what he thinks Wayne would have wanted. I applaud him for that, but I told him not to make any special concessions for us. Whatever the case may be we’ll be there.”
A prayer service was held at Elliot Hall on Thursday for the freshman player who died at football practice. There will also be a candlelight vigil at 5 pm Friday on TSU’s campus.