College football player from New Jersey dies following first day of practice

NEPTUNE, New Jersey (WABC) -- A young man who recently graduated from a New Jersey high school died following his first day of freshman college football practice.

19-year-old Braeden Bradforth had earned a scholarship to Garden City Community College in Kansas after graduating this year from Neptune High School.

Wednesday night after a team meeting, he collapsed in his dorm and was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"They must be having some big championship game in heaven that they really needed him, that they needed his services for because there's no other explanation," said his mother Joanne Atkins-Ingram.

The school's coach says autopsy results are pending but that the emergency room doctor believes a blood clot may have caused Braeden to have a heart attack.

He was 6'4", 304 pounds, and his family says scouts from across the country were interested in him.

Bradforth's high school coach and teammates called him a hard worker and a gentle, fun-loving giant.

"An infectious personality," said Neptune High School football coach Tarig Holman. "A smile that would light up the room, and he just had a passion for his teammates."

"He worked hard, he wasn't a complainer," his mom said. "Any type of practice, any type of test you gave him, he did it."

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with burial expenses and has raised nearly $10,000.

Neptune Schools Superintendent Dr. Tami R. Crader released the following statement:
"On behalf of the staff and the Neptune Board of Education we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Neptune HS 2018 graduate Braeden Bradforth. Losing a child who is on the cusp of his college career is always heartbreaking and difficult to understand. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people who knew and loved him. Counselors will be available at the HS for friends that need assistance. "

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