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Ferris State Football Player Dies

September 13, 2002

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BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) _ An 18-year-old Ferris State football player died after collapsing during practice.

Freshman linebacker Matt Sklom was participating in a tackling drill at the NCAA Division II school about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday when he collapsed, university spokesman Jim Thorp said.

Preliminary reports indicated that the player died of heart failure, Thorp said.

Sklom, a 6-foot-1, 224-pound player from Blue Island, Ill., was a walk-on who had been with the team only a few weeks.

``What I saw in Matt was a good kid who worked hard and gave his all to playing football here at Ferris,″ coach Jeff Pierce said.

Sklom is the second former player from Eisenhower High School in the Chicago suburbs to die in a football-related workout. In February, 19-year-old Jawan Jackson collapsed and died during a tryout at Northern Illinois University. Jackson’s death was attributed to an enlarged heart.

Sklom also is the second football player to die in Michigan in the past week. On Sept. 6, Eric Simpson, a 15-year-old player for Detroit’s Southwestern High School, died after collapsing at a game _ also of apparent heart failure.

Also Wednesday, Steven Puente, a 15-year-old player for King High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, died after collapsing following a freshman game.

Ferris State athletic director Tom Kirinovic said a meeting would be held Thursday to discuss the status of Saturday’s game against Grand Valley State.

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