A college football player died Tuesday of neck injuries he suffered while making what seemed to be a routine tackle during a game, becoming the second college player to die this week.
Robert Grays, a sophomore cornerback for Midwestern State University, had been hospitalized immediately after being injured during the Division II game Saturday against Texas A&M-Kingsville in Wichita Falls, Tex. Grays, who turned 19 last month, was flown to a hospital in Houston to be closer to family and he died there.
Grays was hurt with 3:24 left in the game and nothing about the tackle seemed especially dangerous or unusual. “He’s made this tackle hundreds of times, but it was just one of those situations that landed wrong,” Kyle Williams, interim athletic director, told the Wichitan. “It was traumatic for all of us, particularly the football players. As a campus, we are thinking about him every day.”
“Robert touched many lives while attending the university, but perhaps he will be remembered best for his smile,” Midwestern State President Suzanne Shipley said in a statement. “He was an inspiration on and off the field to those around him and he will be remembered with love and affection by his friends, classmates, coaches and teammates.”
About 700 people gathered Monday in a vigil for Grays, who played at Fort Bend L.V. Hightower High in Missouri City, Tex. Midwestern State (2-0 after Saturday’s 35-13 victory) is ranked 13th nationally in the Division II coaches’ poll.
“Rob lifted our hearts and his mom and dad are just like he is, forever optimistic and tremendously strong faith-based [people],” Coach Bill Maskill told the Times Record News. “I encourage all of us to bond together and use that power of prayer daily.”
Grays’s death is the second in college football this week. Clayton Geib, a College of Wooster offensive lineman, died Sunday. The Wooster, Ohio, school said he had complained of not feeling well and went to a hospital after a victory Saturday over Ohio Wesleyan. The cause of death for Geib, 21, has not been released.
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