Marquese Meadow, an 18-year-old freshman at Morgan State University and defensive lineman on the Bears football team, died early Sunday morning at Johns Hopkins Hospital, two weeks after becoming disoriented at practice, school officials said.
Meadow, a Washington native, was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, and then to Hopkins, following practice on Aug. 10, according to Clinton Coleman, director of public relations and communications at Morgan. Coleman said Meadow was hospitalized since then, and was showing signs of improvement before his condition began to deteriorate Saturday.
"Our prayers go out to the family for comfort at this time," Coleman said. "He was a well-liked young man on the team."
His death is the second college football practice-related death in Maryland this year, following the death in March of Navy freshman Will McKamey, who collapsed following a non-contact drill. The running back from Knoxville, Tenn., died three days later at Maryland Shock Trauma.
Attempts to reach Meadow's family were unsuccessful Sunday. A Johns Hopkins spokesperson was unable to comment.
Morgan State head coach Lee Hull, through an athletics department spokesman, declined to comment Sunday.
At Friendship Collegiate Academy, a charter school in Northeast Washington, Meadow was known by his nickname "Skinny Fatz" for his attempts to wear clothes that made him look slimmer than his 6-foot-2, 300-pound frame, according to former head coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim.
"Marquese was a great kid," Abdul-Rahim recalled. "He was one of my team captains in his senior year. He was a kid who could always brighten up a room. A real outgoing person with a lot of personality. Had a lot of good friends on the team. Was really able to blend with a lot of people on the team."
Abdul-Rahim, who said he is a defensive analyst at the University of Alabama, said someone from Friendship called him Sunday morning to inform him to Meadow's death.
"I spoke to his mom this morning," Abdul-Rahim said of Benita Meadow. "He and his mom were extremely close. She was a part of our football family as well. So it was devastating for her. Less than two weeks ago, he was a healthy kid in his freshman year of college."
Abdul-Rahim said he had heard that Meadow, who was versatile enough to play nose guard, tackle and end in Friendship's 3-4 base defense, had made an impression with members of the Bears coaching staff.
"As far as I know, he had already cracked the two-deep at Morgan State," Abdul-Rahim said, suggesting that the freshman was slated for regular playing time. "So he was doing a good job up there."
Meadow had been recruited by several colleges but chose to attend his father's alma mater.
University of Maryland assistant coach Mike Locksley, who plays a key role in the Terps' recruiting of the D.C. area, posted Sunday on Twitter: "My prayers go out to the Friendship and Morgan St football families for the loss of a great person and player Marquese Meadow."
Classes at Morgan begin Monday. The Bears are slated to play their first game Saturday at Eastern Michigan University.
On the eve of the first day of class at Morgan, amid a calm campus, it was evident that Meadow had already made friends.
Tyler Mack, a freshman from the Philadelphia area, said: "He was a cool person to talk to. That's messed up because he had a full ride here. I remember people telling him that he was going to go to the [NFL] and everything. As soon as I woke up, I heard people saying that 'Skinny Fatz' died."
Jeff Brown, a freshman from Philadelphia, said Meadow always had home-cooked meals
"He was definitely a good person. He had some real good food out here," Brown said. "He was cool and friendly. I heard about it as soon as I woke up. I really feel bad, because I know how my family would feel if I was in that situation, a full ride. They would be so happy if I had a full ride and then they would be so distraught if something like this happened."
Baltimore Sun reporter Colin Campbell contributed to this story.