ANNAPOLIS, MD. (WJLA) - Navy Midshipman Will McKamey was overjoyed when he was cleared by doctors after a serious head injury in 2012, since it meant the red-shirt freshman would finally get to play football for the Navy.
"That was one of the scariest things, so it is really great to be able to come back and play," an old video from back then shows McKamey saying.
To friends and family, the football phenom gushed about his excitement over his future after signing to play football for the Academy last year.
"I have always looked up them as a football team and as a program," McKamey said back then.
However, Wednesday, his family, friends and Navy shipmates were unfortunately mourning his untimely loss, both in Annapolis at the Naval Academy, and back in his hometown of Knoxville, Tenn.
"We are absolutely devastated," said Cmdr. John Schofield, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, where McKamey was enrolled. "It hits hard."
McKamey had been in an induced coma for three days, after he collapsed at football practice on Saturday - though it is not entirely certain at this time what led to his collapse.
McKamey's family released a statement after his collapse through the school, stating that their son had not sustained "a bad hit or unusual or extreme contact."
Cmdr. Schofield did say McKamey had expressed that he was not feeling well at practice that day.
"He did complain of some discomfort, spoke to the trainers... and then collapsed," he said.
McKamey underwent emergency surgery after his collapse to relieve pressure from his brain - but tragically, he never bounced back.
"It's tragic - very sad," said Annapolis resident Carrie Halle about McKamey's death.
Navy coaches have been closely going through footage from that practice, and so far are saying nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
McKamey's family says he was cleared to play football this year after talking to a number of neurologists and going through several MRIs and CAT scans, regarding his 2012 injury.
Many say McKamey's death is the loss of a bright and talented new star at the Academy, where he was an oceanography major. In his hometown of Knoxville, Tenn., he was reportedly a two-time, all-state selection in high school, and went on to be named "Mr. Football."
Church services in McKamey's name were held over the weekend in Annapolis, where local residents also seemed to be in shock over hearing about his death.
"Being a local I know many of [the midshipmen], said resident Austin MacCubbin. 'I can't imagine waking up one day and finding out they're gone."