TSU Mourns Death of Football Player - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

TSU Mourns Death of Football Player

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NASHVILLE, Tenn.-  Thursday, students at Tennessee State University held a memorial for a fellow student, William Wayne Jones III, who collapsed Wednesday during football practice and later died.  Thursday, a little more than 24 hours later, it was still very emotional for everyone at TSU who knew this talented young man.

Former football teammates of Jones walked over to the indoor practice facility where the head coach spoke to them Thursday.  They were all there Wednesday when Wayne collapsed at practice, and they consider themselves a brother to their fallen teammate.

"For this to happen like it happened yesterday, it has touched all these young men in a great way and they are truly saddened right now," TSU Head Coach Rod Reed said at a press conference Thursday.

"I was out on the 50. We stretched, and we were about 10 minutes into the individuals, and he was doing a simple back pedal drill. He back pedaled; the ball was thrown to him; he caught it. He was bringing the ball back to the coach, and he collapsed," the head coach explained.

The cause of death is still uncertain, and those who knew him called Jones a very healthy 19-year-old.

While at Smyrna High School, he played football, basketball, and ran track until he graduated last year; and although he was a walk-on player for the TSU Tigers, many people saw promise in this young man on and off the field.

"I don't think I have ever coached a kid that was as self-driven," said his former high school basketball coach Lonny Drayton. "This kid was just motivated to be the best he could be at whatever."

Former high school teammates said he was a mentor.

"I looked up to him because he worked so hard, and his senior year he was a great leader on the football field. He always kept my head up,"   Desean Williams remembered.

There are three student-planned memorials scheduled.  The first one was held Thursday night at Elliot Hall. There is another scheduled for Friday, and one planned for Monday. The university is organizing a memorial that will include the family of Wayne Jones.  President Portia Sheilds says they want to choose a time that is convenient for the family before finalizing those plans.


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