An undated photo of Darius Minor. Credit: Courtesy of Shane Austin

An 18-year-old member of the University of Maine’s football team collapsed and died during a preseason workout on campus in Orono Tuesday afternoon.

Defensive back Darius Minor from Locust Grove, Virginia, collapsed on the field at approximately 1:15 p.m., according to a University of Maine press release. Members of the UMaine training staff and local first responders were unable to resuscitate him.

The cause of death was unknown Tuesday night.

It is believed to be the first time a UMaine football player has died during workouts since the program began in 1896.

It was a humid day with temperatures in the low 80s in Orono. The players were in shorts and T-shirts and 17 were participating in a supervised light freshman workout.

“Words cannot express the grief we have following this tragic loss,” said UMaine head coach Joe Harasymiak, who had been in Baltimore earlier Tuesday for the Colonial Athletic Association’s annual media day. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Darius’ family and friends during this terrible time.”

“UMaine Athletics is devastated by this terrible incident. We extend our deepest condolences to the family during this difficult time and ask that their privacy be respected,” UMaine Athletic Director James Settele said.

UMaine’s football team doesn’t officially begin training camp until next week, but several teams bring first-year players in early to get them acclimated to the school, the community and their new teammates. They work out together and often take courses.

“The athletics department, our student-athletes and the entire campus mourn the loss of this bright and promising member of our community. We ask all to keep him, his family and his friends in your thoughts through this painful time,” new UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy said Tuesday.

Minor was also a wide receiver at Orange County High School and last fall was an All-Central Virginia first-team wide receiver and a second-team defensive back. He was a four-year varsity starter who led the Hornets to three straight postseason appearances.

He caught 57 passes for 763 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017, leading the Jefferson District in all three categories. He was an All-Jefferson District first team selection at both positions.

Colonial Athletic Association Commissioner Joe D’Antonio said in the release that the “CAA was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of University of Maine football student-athlete Darius Minor. On behalf of the entire CAA family, we extend our deepest sympathies to the University of Maine and Darius’ family. Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

In his personal statement in his recruiting profile in Next College Student Athlete, Minor wrote, “Running out of the tunnel with thousands of fans screaming, that is any young athlete’s dream. I am determined to make that my reality. Perseverance is the key to success, my mindset is that there is always room for improvement. I know with sports at a college level comes training programs, constant hard work and dedication.

“Seeing my single mother of three kids go to college showed me at a young age that things that may feel impossible and bring struggle will only bring reward in the end. Things are not just handed to you, you have to earn them. I am a hard worker and I make sure I try my hardest to excel at everything I do. I am a team player, I will work my hardest and do all I can to help make my team successful.”

He told the C’Ville Varsity that he was looking forward to coming to UMaine.

“They don’t play a lot of zone. They like physical corners who can cover man-to-man,” said Minor, who clocked a time of 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash. “You have to have speed, but you have to have the mentality to go out there and make plays.”

College football-related deaths are rare.

Between 2000 and 2016, there were 35 college football-related deaths according to Inside Higher Ed. Most were due to overexertion, not traumatic injury, according to Dennis Dodd of CBS. Dodd cited research by Scott Anderson, the head athletic trainer at the University of Oklahoma and an authority of player safety.

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