There are some things that football programs are never prepared to deal with and the Cal Bears are in the midst of one such situation right now. During an offseason workout, senior-to-be Ted Agu collapsed and then later passed away putting a heavy cloud over the Cal program as they prepare for the 2014 season.
According to Cal, Agu was struggling with a supervised training run early Friday morning and taken by cart to the team’s medical training facility in the stadium. There, according to team physician Dr. Casey Batten, Agu collapsed as medical personnel administered CPR before he was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. Agu had never shown any kind of issues with workouts like this during his time at Cal over the last four years.
There are unconfirmed reports that Agu suffered from a sickle-cell trait which has been the leading cause of deaths in NCAA Division I football players since 2000. The school, however, has not confirmed any such medical condition and the official cause of death won’t be known for six to eight weeks as the case is now considered a coroner’s case.
Whatever the underlying cause, the effect’s of Agu’s death will be felt throughout the Cal football program. While Agu was not an impact player on the field, his presence was heavily felt in the locker room by his teammates. The former walk-on often acted as a mentor to the younger guys on the team, helping them get acclimated to the college life as a student-athlete at Berkeley.
Freshman offensive lineman Erik Bunte called Agu the “best example of a true Cal football player” on his Twitter account. Freshman defensive back Cameron Walker also opened up about Agu on Twitter, calling the 21-year-old “a blessing to all of us” and that the loss “hurts so bad.” Head coach Sonny Dykes was left stunned by the loss, saying “This is one of those tragedies that no one can understand and comprehend.”
With teams around the country ramping up to begin their prep for the 2014 season with spring practice, Cal is dealing with something that is so much bigger than football. The program will feel the loss of 21-year-old Ted Agu for quite some time and will play on in 2014 in his memory with heavy hearts. Our thoughts and prayers are with Agu’s family, friends, and teammates.