SMYRNA, Tenn. - Friends and fellow teammates gathered at Smyrna High School on Sunday night to remember a TSU football player who collapsed and died at practice last week.
"It's a heartbreaking loss and unexpected," said Matt Williams, who coached William Wayne Jones for all four years of his high school football career.
The 19-year-old was known to his teammates as "Wayne." Hundreds of them gathered on the 50-yard line of Robert Raikes Stadium holding candles in remembrance of the star defensive back.
"You preach to fight through adversity and how important family is, and I think in a time like this, you hope the lessons you try to teach as a coach stick to these young people. They'll fight through adversity and be there for each other and realize Wayne's in a better place," Coach Williams added.
It is still unclear how Jones died, but TSU officials said he was participating in a non-contact practice drill when he collapsed on Wednesday. He was pronounced dead at Baptist Hospital.
"Wayne, he was a good person. There's nothing negative to say about Wayne. He was always positive. If you needed help, he was there to help you. He was always there to motivate you and keep you up," recalled his close friend Brad Wilson.
Throughout the evening, the football booster club was collecting donations to help Jones's family cover funeral costs. Funeral arrangements are still being finalized for William Wayne Jones, but the head coach of the TSU football team said all 86 of his players will be in attendance, no matter when the service is scheduled.