One day after a former Ohio University football player died in a Cleveland-area hospital, the cause of his death remains unknown.
Former starting defensive lineman Marcellis Williamson died Wednesday afternoon in Euclid Hospital. The cause of the 23-year-old’s death is not yet known, but an autopsy is expected to be completed by today, according to the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office.
Williamson himself called 911 Wednesday afternoon, said Brian Perkins, Williamson’s father. Perkins was notified at about 4:30 p.m. that his son was in the hospital, but he said he did not know what happened.
The uncertainty surrounding his son’s death stunned Perkins, who said Williamson appeared to be in good health.
“It was sudden. He hadn’t been sick. He hadn’t had an illness,” Perkins said. “We’re still in shock. It’s so hard to believe because it was so sudden.”
Williamson, a fifth-year senior, graduated from OU after Fall Quarter with a degree in recreation management. He participated in a Pro Day workout for the NFL Draft on March 10 and had dreams of playing professional football, Perkins said.
“The NFL was his goal, but his goal for us as a family was to get a degree,” Perkins said.
Perkins added that his most outstanding memory of Williamson was the respect he garnered from everyone around him.
“He never had an enemy in this world. (He) never had anybody that would say anything bad about him,” Perkins said. “He would have given anybody the shirt off his back.”
Linebacker Noah Keller, cornerback Julian Posey and defensive lineman Jeff King — who all played at least three years with Williamson — joined coach Frank Solich yesterday at a news conference to talk about their former teammate.
“It’s tragic when someone young and full of energy passes, and especially tragic to those within his immediate football family,” Solich said. “It’s been a tough time.”
Solich called a team meeting for 7:30 this morning. The team has not yet decided whether or not to have an on-campus memorial service for Williamson, but Solich said the team would discuss it.
Funeral arrangements for Williamson have not yet been announced, but Perkins said the family has created the Marcellis Williamson Memorial Fund to help pay for its costs.
As of 10 p.m. yesterday, the fund had already generated $1,132, said Jason Corriher, assistant athletics director for Media Relations at Ohio University. One donor remembered Williamson by donating $62, which was Williamson's number.
“Our family appreciates everybody’s support and all the loving and kind things they had to share about Marcellis,” Perkins said.