ORLANDO, Fla. -- A Central Florida wide receiver died Tuesday after voluntary strength and conditioning drills, the day before spring practice was set to begin.
Police said there was no foul play or obvious cause for redshirt freshman Ereck Plancher's late-morning collapse. UCF athletic director Keith Tribble said the players had been lifting weights and then ran for about 10 minutes.
After the workout, the team huddled for a quick chat. As everyone was leaving, Plancher, of Naples, took a knee in obvious distress, Tribble said. UCF trainers on site immediately provided CPR and the redshirt freshman was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He was pronounced dead just before noon.
"I know that I speak for our entire UCF family in saying that our thoughts and prayers are with Ereck's family on such a tragic day," Tribble said. "We offer our full support to Ereck's family, teammates, classmates and friends to cope with this unexpected loss."
Tribble said Plancher had passed a physical. The practice was inside an air-conditioned building, but the weather outside wasn't bad. The National Weather Service said it topped out at about 78 degrees in the area, with about 50 percent humidity.
Awareness of the heat issue has been heightened for several years, following the deaths of some high school players during workouts, plus college players Eraste Autin of Florida, Devaughn Darling of Florida State and Rashidi Wheeler of Northwestern.
Wheeler collapsed in August 2001 after participating in a conditioning drill.
UCF's spring practices weren't scheduled to start until Wednesday, but Tribble said 82 players were there for conditioning. He could not say who led the practice but said there was no concern it was not compliant with NCAA rules.
Plancher, 5-foot-10 and 184 pounds, was a two-time letterman at Lely High School in Naples. He majored in business and was a high school National Honor Society member.
"Medical staff did an incredible job, my team of officers did an incredible job trying to save this young man's life," UCF police chief Richard Beary said. "It's just a very sad day, very tragic."
An autopsy will be performed to determine an exact cause of death.
In 2005, a reserve linebacker for Missouri, Aaron O'Neal, collapsed during preseason workouts and died less than two hours later. A medical examiner cited viral meningitis as the cause of death, but the chairman of the university's pathology department and several outside experts suggested that sickle cell trait may have been a factor.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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Another sad story. An 18 year old football player from Central Florida collapsed and died this morning. Thoughts and prayers to the Plancher family