Navy Football Player Will McKamey Passes Away at Age 19

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2014

FORT WORTH, TX - DECEMBER 30:  Players of the Navy Midshipmen celebrate after a game against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders during the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium on December 30, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas. The Navy Midshipmen defeated the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 24-6.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

Navy football player Will McKamey, a freshman slot back who underwent brain surgery this past weekend after collapsing at a Saturday practice, died Tuesday while in a post-surgical coma, according to a statement released by the Academy.

McKamey was 19.

The academy also released the news via Twitter:

His passing comes three days after he collapsed following a routine hit at spring practice, per The Baltimore Sun's Don Markus. McKamey was immediately airlifted to a local hospital, Baltimore Shock Trauma, where he underwent emergency surgery in an attempt to clear a blood clot. He had been in a coma since the surgery, showing minimal signs of life.

The McKamey family released a statement on Monday, calling their son's process a "long road." While the Naval Academy and coaching staff seemingly did everything in their power to help McKamey get to the hospital immediately, there have been some who wondered about his history of brain injuries.

McKamey suffered a separate injury in October 2012 playing football, but was cleared by four independent neurosurgeons and underwent multiple CAT scans to rule out any possible recurrence. He redshirted in 2013 and went nine months without contact, according to the family. 

"One thing I want you all to know is that Will did not sustain a bad hit or unusual or extreme contact in practice Saturday," the statement read. "The Navy coaches have poured [sic] through the films of practice and seen nothing more than Will carrying the football normally, doing what he truly loves."

Since Saturday's practice, there has been an outpouring of support for the Naval Academy and McKamey. From the Army and Air Force to Tennessee's football program and obviously the student body at Navy, the entire McKamey family was given untold support as it rested by his bedside. In a statement released by Navy, head football coach Ken Niumatalolo passed along his condolences:

During this most difficult of times, first and foremost, our prayers and thoughts turn to Randy, Kara and their beautiful family. Our deepest and most sincere condolences go out to their entire family and friends. As our Navy football family mourns the loss of one of our brothers, we also celebrate and honor his life. He loved his family, his friends and his teammates. The Brotherhood loves you! Keep the ball "high and tight" in Heaven.

McKamey was a fourth-class oceanography major and highly respected among his peers and teammates. A decorated high school football player at Grace Christian Academy in Tennessee, he was named Tennessee's Mr. Football in 2012, had more than 2,000 yards rushing and receiving as a senior and helped lead his team to four straight district championships. McKamey's father, Randy, was the head coach of his high school team. 

McCamey also made two All-State teams and appeared in junior-varsity games last season while redshirting. 

Still, McKamey was much more than a football player. He was someone who came back from an undoubtedly traumatic experience in 2012 to play the sport he loves while serving his country. The numerous letters and well-wishers unquestionably speak to the young man's character, and our thoughts are with his family as it deals with this difficult time.

The Naval Academy has indicated funeral arrangements are still pending.