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Former Illinois O-Lineman Afryl Passes Away

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(CBS) Family, friends and teammates at two universities are mourning the death of a former University of Illinois football player who died during a voluntary pre-season conditioning drill at Winona State University.

Shawn Afryl played on the offensive and defensive lines during his four years at Niles West High School, but played only one game in three years for the Illini. At Winona State, said Asst. Coach Cam Keller, he was switching from offensive line to nose guard and had made quite an impression in only a month on campus. He hoped to become a teacher and coach.

Former Illinois O-Lineman Afryl Passes Away

generic cbs 2 wbbm web Former Illinois O Lineman Afryl Passes Away
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Keller says Afryl was participating in a change of direction drill when he hunched over, then collapsed. Strength coaches who were supervising the drill are all EMT-qualified and began immediate cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Winona Fire Department paramedics and doctors at a local hospital also were unable to revive him.

Afryl’s mother called him her “hero” in an online plea to defray funeral expenses; within hours, she raised nearly $20,000.

“He had the biggest heart in the world, and was a leader with kindness of soul,” Sue Afryl said.

Illini head coach Tim Beckman said he was “greatly saddened” and called Afryl “a great teammate and a dedicated student.”