Former Florida State offensive lineman Todd Williams, who went on to play in the NFL after being selected by the Tennessee Titans in the 2003 draft, was found dead in the hours leading up to the Seminoles' victory in the BCS National Championship Game. He was 35.
A report from the Associated Press (via Fox News) states the former tackle's mother said Williams had informed her he was feeling sick last week and she found his body after going to check on him. No foul play is believed to have been involved.
The 35-year-old Bradenton native had reportedly complained to his mother of feeling sick on Friday. She found his body Monday.
Sheriff's spokesman Dave Bristow says they haven't found anything suspicious, but an autopsy will be performed.
Williams was a redshirt freshman with Florida State the last time the program won the national title before beating Auburn in this season's championship game.
After finishing his career with the Seminoles, he was drafted by the Titans in the seventh round. He stayed with the franchise through 2005 before making brief stops with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers.
He also played for the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League and the California Redwoods of the United Football League.
Upon finishing his football career he returned home to Florida. Jason Dill of the Bradenton Herald reports he had found a job working as a teacher at Manatee Y Technological High School.
He spent a lot of time with kids in at-risk situations. Dill passed along comments from Jerry Parrish, who got to know Williams over the past decade:
"Gone too soon, that's for sure," said Jerry Parrish, the Youth at Risk director at the YMCA who knew Williams for roughly eight years. "Just brought a lot of joy to a lot of kids. Just a servant and a good, good human being."
Parrish also talked about the lasting legacy Williams leaves after a tough upbringing:
It doesn't matter what side of the tracks you were born on; it doesn't matter. It matters what you want to do and what you want to accomplish. And I think that's the legacy that he left. It doesn't matter how you start, it matters how you finish. He was finishing strong and doing great things.
Dill's report also states Williams had been feeling ill for the past month. The cause of death is unknown with an autopsy pending.