Tennessee State University announced Wednesday that a redshirt freshman collapsed and passed away during football practice.
William Wayne Jones III, 19, a defensive back, was involved in a non-contact practice, when he fell down unconscious. Trainers rushed to Jones, who had no pulse while he was lying on the Astroturf field, News Channel 5 in Nashville reported. He was pronounced dead at 5:50 p.m. at Baptist Hospital.
Football coach Rod Reed said Jones had been playing catch with another coach when he collapsed on the field.
“This is a very tragic day for our entire Tennessee State University community and we are devastated by the sudden passing of this young man," said Teresa Phillips, TSU athletics director. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this very difficult time. Our University and our football team are hurting as we feel the loss of one of our own. As a team and a family we will grieve alongside the family and do everything we can to help support them through this very difficult time.”
The team’s website said Jones was from Smyrna, Tenn., and played onhis high school football and basketball teams. He had yet to play a game for the TSU Tigers.
The cause of his death remains unknown, and an autopsy has been schedule for Friday.
Coach Reed told the Tennessean that the entire football roster and coaching staff would attend Reed's funeral services, no matter where they are on the calendar.
“I spoke with the dad and he was trying to make arrangements around the game,” Reed said. “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.”