Hard-working, dedicated and friendly were key phrases used when people talked about 19-year-old freshman running back Keeley Dorsey.
“Keeley was a great kid – always had a smile on his face, a very, very positive person, the type of kid you want to have around,” said Kyle Rice, Dorsey’s coach at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee. “He worked extremely hard to achieve all of his goals that he wanted to achieve up until this point and made several sacrifices to achieve what he wanted to achieve. He was very, very deserving of everything he got.”
The USF football team lost one of its own Wednesday when Dorsey collapsed during a routine work-out session in the Athletic Facility and passed away shortly after at 2:34 p.m.
Dorsey was born Aug. 5, 1987, in New Brunswick, N.J. His family moved to Tallahassee in 2003, where he played football for Lincoln High. Both Rice and Lincoln High principal Martha Bunch said they were deeply saddened by the tragic loss and have only fond memories of the young football player.
“He was a wonderful young man and we are all heartsick about this loss,” Bunch said. “We’ve spent the day remembering his beautiful smile.”
Close friends and teammates were left stunned by the tragedy.
“It’s an extreme shock,” freshman running back Colby Erskin said. “No one could’ve predicted this to happen. When it happened I was like, ‘Wow, I bet he’s looking down on us right now saying, ‘I can’t believe it happened either.” He’s probably just as shocked as we are.”
Those who knew Dorsey in high school said he was a model of fitness and there were no signs that something could be physically wrong.
“He was an Adonis,” Rice said. “He had a big ol’ physique – a really good-looking kid.”
Apart from his physical attributes, those close to Dorsey said he was a popular student who had a strong drive and ambition to play college football.
“He was so dedicated – football was his life,” longtime friend Stuart Waldo said. “He didn’t play his senior year, but he was determined to play college so he spent his entire senior year talking to coaches, making highlight tapes and getting into USF. None of the coaches at (Dorsey’s) high school really directly helped him get into college – they supported and helped him as much as they could, but they weren’t 100 percent going out of their way to help. He had to do a lot of stuff on his own to get into college.”
Rice agreed that Dorsey worked hard to obtain his position on the USF team and added that people couldn’t help but like Dorsey’s congenial personality.
“Everybody loved Keeley, and Keeley loved everybody,” Rice said. “Just a really, really good kid; everybody that came in contact with Keeley left feeling good about meeting him. He was one of those types of kids that had a great personality and was just always a happy-go-lucky kid.” Erskin said he remembered Dorsey’s time with the team was full of desire to be a better football player and teammate.
“He wanted to be known,” Erskin said. “He wanted to help the team, and he was upset when he wasn’t playing because he thought he could help the team. He really, really wanted to be great.”
Erskin said he remembered the only touchdown Dorsey scored.
“It was the last play of the game, and like I said, he wanted to be great, and that’s what he was trying to show,” he said. “He was trying to show that he wanted to be a starter, and that’s why he scored on the last play.”
Melvin Buckley, a forward on the USF men’s basketball team, said the team learned about the tragedy about an hour before its game at West Virginia.
“It’s devastating because we are all at USF to play the sport we love and to get an education,” Buckley said. “So when one player goes down, it kind of puts life in perspective. When playing the game, you get to play game two, three or four, but in life you don’t get a life two, three or four, you just get one, and when someone loses that precious thing we call life, it’s really a devastating blow to everybody involved.”
The way Dorsey lived his life may have been best described by Dorsey himself. On his Facebook.com account, Dorsey had this quote posted: “Enjoy life today. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never come. Live life to the fullest.”
None of Dorsey’s family could be reached for comment. However, Waldo said he is in contact with Dorsey’s father, and no funeral arrangements have been made at this time.
Asst. Sports Editor Kevin Smetana and Staff Writer Charles Gonzalez contributed to this story.