Stetson University mourns death of football player

“He had this infectious smile, he could just light up a room,” said Stetson football player Gaven Defillipo.

Wearing the number 39 in his honor, teammates of 19-year-old  Stetson football player Nick Blakely are heartbroken after the sophomore suddenly collapsed during Monday night’s practice.

“We’re grieving ourselves and our teammates are grieving as well, so it’s tough for us,” Defillipo said.

The practice had just started at the athletic field when the linebacker told staff that he was feeling dizzy and light headed.

“They pulled him out of practice and sat him down, and monitored him closely for the next 30 or 40 minutes where he started show signs of recovery and then he collapsed,” said Jeff Altier, Stetson Athletic Director.

Trainers and emergency responders quickly administered CPR and deployed an AED, but Blakely was pronounced dead at the hospital – Coach Roger Hughes was charged with the tough task of making the phone call to his family in Georgia.

“You try to from a distance, put your arms around them and hug them and explain to them that everything that could have been done was,” Hughes said.

Hughes said Blakely had met all the health screening that players  are required to pass, DeLand Police say the incident appears to be medically related , still they are conducting an investigation.

“We were having a light practice, we weren’t hitting at all, we’d had numerous breaks and the kids had already had almost 36 hours off,” Hughes said.

An informal memorial was held for Blakely on campus Tuesday afternoon, students  who knew him are just trying to cope.

“We’re trying to keep it together but it’s hard on everybody,” said one student.

The team will still play their first game of the season this Saturday.