18-Year-Old College Football Player Dies After Collapsing During Practice

Quandarius Wilburn, who played defensive end for the Virginia Union University Panthers, died Aug. 8 after passing out during a conditioning workout

Quandarius Wilburn
Photo: Twitter

A college football player in Virginia has died after suddenly collapsing during practice on Sunday.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that 18-year-old Quandarius Wilburn, who played defensive end for the Virginia Union University Panthers, died Aug. 8 while participating in conditioning drills at the school's Hovey Stadium.

VUU confirmed Wilburn's death in a statement released Monday evening.

"The Virginia Union University family is heartbroken about the passing of a freshman student and football player on Sunday, August 8, 2021," the statement read. "Our primary concern is the well-being of the family and fellow students impacted by this tragedy. Virginia Union stands ready to provide support in any way necessary and available as families and students work to process this devastating loss."

According to a letter from VUU sent to the university community, Wilburn had eaten breakfast with the rest of the team on Sunday morning, after which he and the Panthers attended a church service, had lunch and began their conditioning workout.

After collapsing during practice, Wilburn was rushed to VCU Medical Center in an ambulance. He died later that day.

Sandra Nelson, Wilburn's grandmother, told the Times-Dispatch Tuesday that the autopsy for her grandson is currently pending, although she understands his cause of death to be cardiac arrest.

"He went into cardiac arrest," she said. "They did everything they could to save him, and they couldn't save him."

Nelson added, "He was a completely healthy guy. Never did drugs, never smoked. Loved people. Loved life. He made an impact on everybody he met. Everybody loved him. Old people. Young people. He was a positive person, an encourager."

J.B. Arnold, who coached Wilburn during the two years he played for the varsity football team at Jefferson County High School, described the late athlete as a "great character kid" who "worked his tail off," "never complained" and "didn't miss a practice."

Arnold also noted that Wilburn underwent a physical exam for all four years at Jefferson County High School and never reported any health issues.

Wilburn was raised in Wadley, Georgia, and traveled to Virginia for school. His uncle, Damien Wilburn, told the Times-Dispatch that his nephew planned to finish his education to "help his mom out with everything she needed."

Damien added, "All he wanted to do was play football and make his family proud. He was the type of guy, he liked to joke and smile, but he was a very well-mannered young man."

"He would say, 'Yes sir, no sir,' 'Yes ma'am, no ma'am.' He just made it easy to be a parent to him. He made it very easy," Damien said. "He'd give you the shirt off his back."

Funeral services for Wilburn will be held Saturday at Jefferson County High School in Louisville, Georgia, in order to accommodate the number of attendees expected.

"He was a well-known kid amongst his class that he graduated with and everybody has just been sending their condolences, and right now we're looking at a pretty big funeral," Damien explained. "He was a very popular kid. Everybody loved him. Nobody had any bad words to say about him."

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