Fred Thompson, the Oregon State freshman football player who died of an apparent heart attack while playing basketball Wednesday night, was an extremely popular student and athlete at Oakland Tech High School, where he graduated from the year before.
Oakland Tech athletic director James Coplan told The Oregonian that students at Thompson's former school were mourning the loss Thursday. Grief counselors are being made available, and a Fred Thompson Memorial was set up in the main lobby of the school building.
Everybody, from the Principal on down, is shocked by the news that Fred passed away. He was an extremely popular student here, as well as an athlete,'' Coplan told the newspaper. Even after he graduated, he worked out with the football team at times. ...obviously, for someone so young [to pass] this comes as a complete shock.''
Coplan said Thompson was a really nice kid with a very bubbly personality.
Thompson was playing a pick-up game of basketball at the Dixon Rec Center on the OSU campus when he collapsed. The 6-foot-4, 317-pound defensive tackle was from Richmond, Calif. He had suffered a shoulder injury in the spring and did not play this season for the Beavers, though he dressed out for games late in the season for coach Mike Riley.
After collapsing, Thompson was transported to Good Samaritan Regional Hospital. He was pronounced dead there, just days shy of his 20th birthday.
Out of high school, Thompson was highly-recruited. Rivals rated him a three-star defensive tackle and he was one of the top 100 prospects in California in 2010 after playing at Oakland Tech.
Thompson became the second 19-year-old college football to die of a heart problem in recent weeks. Arkansas tight end Garrett Uekman was discovered dead in his dorm room on Nov. 20. He had apparently had an undiagnosed heart condition.
In his team biography, Thompson said he chose to play at Oregon State because of family vibe, nice campus and great academics. Upon Thompson's death, OSU cornerback, a teammate of Thompson's, tweeted, R.I.P Fred Im really gonna miss you bro. My prayers go to you and your family.
OSU coach Mike Riley was out of town on a recruiting trip when the news of Thompson's death broke, but he was to return to campus on Thursday.