Football player Keeley Dorsey died Wednesday afternoon after collapsing in the weight room during a workout at USF’s Athletic Facility.
He was 19.
Dorsey, a 5-foot-11, 210-pound freshman running back from Tallahassee, was participating in a routine team-conditioning workout when he collapsed.
Dorsey, one of six true freshman to play this season, was pronounced dead at University Community Hospital at 2:34 p.m.Freshman receiver Carlton Mitchell, who was present during the time of the collapse, said he heard Dorsey fall. Mitchell added there were about 10 to 30 players in the weight room, though most missed what occurred.
“Everyone was calling out and saying his name,” Mitchell said. “Everyone crowded around him, then they said he wasn’t breathing … and they responded to him right away, but they made us leave once the ambulance got there.”
Athletic Director Doug Woolard said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the strength and conditioning coaches were present in the weight room during Dorsey’s collapse and administered CPR on site.
Freshman receiver Colby Erskin, who worked with Dorsey at the running back position before moving to receiver this season, said he hung out with Dorsey “a lot outside of football” but was not present during the collapse.
Erskin added that another player told him he would not be doing his regular lift at 3 p.m. “because Keeley was doing a certain lift, and he racked (the weights), and he said (Dorsey) looked like he was walking away, and (Dorsey) fell on the ground and started having a seizure. Then the trainers came in and were trying to talk to him, telling him to keep breathing, and then they had to jump (Dorsey’s) heart (with a defibrillator).”
The cause of death has yet to be determined.
“Our entire athletic family is deeply saddened by this tragedy,” Woolard said at the press conference in front of the John and Grace Allen Administration Building. “I spoke with the team (Wednesday afternoon) and I can tell you this tragedy is hitting us very hard, and this is going to be a long night for all of us in the athletic department.”
USF President Judy Genshaft had similar sentiments.
“The USF community is extremely shocked and saddened by the death of one of our student-athletes on campus today,” she said. “There is nothing more tragic than the loss of one our students.”
The news hit the Athletic Department hard Wednesday as the USF softball team returned from its practice field visually distraught, while some football team members were seen crying and seeking comfort from their position coaches in the parking lot.
Coach Jim Leavitt was not present in the Athletic Facility on Wednesday because he was on the recruiting trail in West Palm Beach.
“I hurt for Keeley,” Leavitt said in a statement. “I hurt for Keeley’s parents. I hurt for our team. Keeley was a tremendous person. He was always upbeat and an inspiration to me and all of us. He had a great impact on our team, and he will be sorely missed.”
Leavitt may fly to Tallahassee this morning to see Dorsey’s family, sports information director John Gerdes said Wednesday night.
Dorsey’s college career consisted of 10 rushes for 66 yards and one touchdown in 2006. The touchdown came on a 52-yard run on the last play of the Bulls’ 41-10 win against McNeese State on Sept. 2.
Dorsey is the second student-athlete USF has lost in the past 15 months. Former men’s basketball player Bradley Mosley died of renal cancer on Oct. 29, 2005.
However, this is the second USF football player to pass away in the team’s 10 seasons.
On June 22, 2001, redshirt freshman Patrick Payton died as a result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. However, Payton never played a down.
Vice President of Student Affairs Jennifer Meningall said USF will provide counseling and support to students and athletes.
Erskin called Wednesday’s events “an extreme shock. No one could’ve predicted this to happen. … (Dorsey’s) probably as shocked as we are.”
Mitchell said he is dealing with Dorsey’s death “pretty well,” but added that the team “has really leaned on each other and been there for each other.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Mitchell said. “One minute everything is going good, the next minute everything is downhill.”
Asst. Sports Editor Kevin Smetana contributed to this story.