ORLANDO — Four teammates of a UCF football player who died last month say he showed signs of distress before collapsing after an intense workout, the Orlando Sentinel reported Friday.
Ereck Plancher died March 18, about an hour after the team's "mat drills." A cause of death has not been determined.
The players requested anonymity because they feared retribution from coaches.
"Everybody was struggling at times," one said. "But (Ereck) was running, and I could tell something wasn't right. His eyes got real dark, and he was squinting like he was blinded by the sun. He was making this moaning noise, trying to breathe real hard."
The players said Plancher, a 19-year-old receiver from Naples, fell during one run.
"The coaches were yelling at him to get up, and of course, he came in last," one player said.
Knights coach George O'Leary disputed the players' account.
"I did not see him struggle," he said. "From my professional opinion, what should have been done for his care was being done."
The players said they came forward because they were upset about the school's portrayal of a "10 minute, 26 second" workout that included a "weights component."
That's how athletic director Keith Tribble described it a few hours after Plancher's death. Associate athletic director David Chambers clarified Tribble's statement a week later, saying the workout lasted about 20 minutes.
Players, though, said the mat drills included:
• Multiple agility work stations that lasted five minutes each.
• Two runs on a 200-yard obstacle course.
• Two timed sprints from sideline to sideline.
They said the drills, done at an indoor practice facility, came after players lifted weights for an hour.
The four say O'Leary singled out Plancher during a huddle and cursed at him for lack of effort during the final sprint. O'Leary denied cursing at Plancher but recalled telling people around him, "He's better than that."
FSU lineman out
TALLAHASSEE — Florida State offensive tackle Daron Rose is out for tonight's spring game after suffering a small chip to a bone in his neck, the transverse process, a protrusion along either side of the arch of a vertebra where the spinal muscles attach. The former Jefferson High star won't need surgery and should be ready for fall practice.
"I'm able to do some lifting now, and I can run," Rose said, adding he can turn his head to the right but not the left without discomfort. "They're worried about contact more than anything else."
He said he was injured Monday while blocking Budd Thacker and was hit by someone else.
Tennessee: Junior Jonathan Crompton, the projected starting quarterback, will have surgery to remove a loose particle from his throwing elbow. He should be ready by fall drills.
Men's basketball: Gators lose forward
GAINESVILLE — Florida sophomore forward Jonathan Mitchell will transfer, school officials said. The 6-foot-7 Mitchell was a touted recruit who averaged 19.5 points and nearly eight rebounds to lead Mount Vernon (N.Y.) High to a Class 4A state title.
After playing sparingly as a freshman, Mitchell played in 35 games this past season with one start, averaging 3.1 points and 1.8 rebounds in 11.4 minutes.
Women's basketball: Tennessee forward Vicki Baugh was diagnosed with a torn left ACL. The freshman, who averaged 5.3 points and four rebounds, was hurt when she fell after making a layup during Tuesday's title game. Her status for next season has not been determined.
Baseball: Georgia Tech junior pitcher Michael Hutts was found dead at his off-campus apartment. Police said they have not determined a cause of death but don't suspect foul play. Hutts, 21, was 0-0 with a 3.38 ERA in nine games.
Times staff writers Antonya English and Brian Landman contributed to this report.