The San Jose State football program is mourning former Spartans linebacker Katrell Collier, who died early Wednesday from injuries sustained in a fall from a building in downtown San Jose.
Coach Dick Tomey met with the team twice Wednesday and canceled the afternoon practice because many Spartans players and coaches, including Tomey, had spent an all-night vigil at the hospital. Collier was 24.
``All of us are devastated,'' Tomey said. ``The most important thing is for the guys on our team to celebrate Katrell's life the best way they can and then come back tomorrow.
``None of us are going to feel any better, but we'll be rested. It's not going to be gone, the hurt, the anger, the frustration. You just do the best you can.''
The San Jose Police Department is investigating the death as a possible suicide.
Collier hadn't played for the Spartans since 2004, when he saw action in three games, but he still had close friends on the team and was attempting a comeback. The Miami native regularly worked out with SJSU players this summer and was petitioning the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility in hopes of playing this season. Teammates said Collier, who was academically ineligible last season, had been boasting about passing all his summer-session classes and that he was close to graduating with a degree in child development.
``The people who knew him are greatly affected,'' said wide receiver Chester Coleman, who along with several other Spartans roomed with Collier. ``His personality had a vibe about it that just drew people to him. He was a very outgoing, uplifting guy.
``You never saw it coming. I still can't believe it happened.''
According to several sources, authorities were summoned to Third and San Carlos streets at about 9 p.m. Tuesday and found Collier on the ground with injuries sustained from a multi-story fall. Collier was rushed to the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. According to Coleman, doctors said Collier died at 4:34 a.m.
Most of the team didn't learn of Collier's death until Tomey met with the group Wednesday morning.
``You could hear a pin drop,'' said linebacker coach Charlie Camp. ``It was eerie. Your ears were ringing, it was so quiet.''
Quarterback Adam Tafralis said, ``Everybody takes it different, but there were plenty of tears. It was a complete shock. I was with him last week, right before we started camp. I actually have a voice mail saved from him on my phone. I'm going to have to hear that when I go back and check my messages.''
Tomey said the Spartans will resume practice today -- their first workout in pads -- and attempt to begin restoring normalcy to a program that already was shaken by the recent arrest of projected starting cornerback Ellis Jones. This wound, however, could take a while to heal.
``It's going to be pretty hard because I find myself thinking, `Man, I should have said something to him that morning, like `All right, 'Trell, bye,' '' said Coleman, who last saw Collier on Tuesday morning on his way to practice. ``I do remember he made me laugh the night before; we were watching a movie and laughing about it, so that's a good memory to have, that he put a smile on my face before I went to sleep.''
Published by Mercury News on Aug. 15, 2006.