Four Central Florida players, who asked for anonymity because they fear retribution from coaches, told the Orlando Sentinel that Ereck Plancher showed signs of distress during a voluntary workout on May 18.
Shortly after the workout, Plancher collapsed. He died about an hour later at a hospital. The cause of death has yet to be determined.
"Everybody was struggling at times," one player said of the workout. "... 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 four players said Plancher fell during a sideline-to-sideline sprint and members of the coaching staff yelled at him to finish the drill. Plancher did but finished last.
The team then huddled at the middle of the field and coach George O'Leary singled out Plancher and cursed at him for lack of effort. "That's a bunch of [expletive] out of you, son," O'Leary said, according to the four players.
Said one of the players: "Ereck was in the back when O'Leary was yelling at him, but Ereck couldn't even look at him. He was trying to catch his breath the whole time and he never could."
O'Leary and his staff say the account by the four players is simply not true. "I did not see him struggle," he said.