A Creekside High School football player has died after being injured in a scrimmage Friday night.
De’Antre Turman, an 11th grader and cornerback for the Seminoles, died after being hurt on the Banneker High School field in College Park, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed on Saturday.
Turman, 16, died of a broken neck later Friday night at Grady Memorial Hospital. The Medical Examiner’s Office said Turman’s death resulted from his neck vertebrae being broken “due to blunt force trauma.”
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of this student,” Fulton County school system spokeswoman Samantha Evans said. “This is a truly horrific way to begin a school year.”
Turman was one of the state’s top prospects for the 2015 class. Many colleges had planned on evaluating him this season. He got his first major-college scholarship offer in June from Kentucky.
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Creekside head coach Olten Downs declined to comment Sunday morning. Downs is in his first season at Creekside in Fairburn.
Johnny T. White, Creekside’s head coach from 2009 to 2011, heard the news from a Creekside parent who saw the scrimmage. White was Turman’s head coach as a freshman. “He’s one of the best kids I’ve ever dealt with in my 18 years of coaching, period, hands down,” White said. “He was quiet, but always smiling. He had a real good spirit. It was always yes sir, no sir. He enjoyed his team, and he loved his teammates. Just a great kid.”
White said he was told by a parent of another Creekside player that Turman was making what appeared to be a routine tackle when he was injured.
Turman, a 5’11, 164 pound cornerback, had a scholarship offer from UK, according to 247Sports and others.
“He started getting a whole bunch of looks. Offers were coming in,” White said.
Affectionately known as “Tre Tre”, Deantre, of Union City, died doing what he loved, said family and friends.
“He was a good kid, an outstanding football player, and loved his parents,” said Glenn Ford, Turman’s off-season coach with the iDareU training program in Atlanta. “He…persevered through everything and loved the game he died for. He will be missed.”
“That is what made him the happiest. Being the competitor and playing different sports made him happy,” Turman’s guardian Tarsha Keller told Channel 2 Action News. Turman’s mother died when he was 4, but Keller has been his guardian since the fifth grade, she told Channel 2. “We’ve raised him as our own,” she said.
Glenn Ford told Channel 2 he watched the play from the field. “Tre broke on it, dislodged the ball and his body just went limp. (He) immediately just went limp and he was on the ground,” Ford said. He said he ran over, but Turman wasn’t breathing. “(We were) calling out his name, just trying to get him to come back to open his eyes up to move until the ambulance got there,” Ford said. Ford told Channel 2 it took about 15 minutes for paramedics to arrive.
GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin expressed sympathy for the family.
“Any kind of death of an adolescent, it’s a tragedy,” Swearngin said. “As a father and grandfather, it strikes you personally.”
The last time a Georgia football player died as the result of an injury or collision occurred in 2009 at Cook High School in Adel. Running back Roy White died after being tackled and hit in the chest during spring practice. Swearngin said he could not recall another student athlete death as a result of injury or collision in the past 10 years. He said it was routine for the GHSA to look into circumstances that led to the player’s death in hopes of limiting the chances of another tragedy. “Unfortunately, life has risks, and we’re constantly trying to limit those.”
In May, Turman attended the RisingSeniors.com’s camp and earned an invitation on the spot to participate in the annual December all-star football game which features 90 of the state’s top high school juniors. “He was definitely one of the best players at the camp, and the thing I really loved about him, that he was real quiet and reserved,” said Joe Burns, co-founder of RisingSeniors.com. “He was one of those kids that was really focused, and trying to make the most out of the opportunity.”
National Recruiting Analyst Kipp Adams said it was a no-brainer to invite Turman to the camp because of how well he made plays on the ball and defended receivers.
“De’Antre truly loved the game of football, and there might not have been anyone more excited to earn an invite to the Rising Seniors program than De’Antre,” Adams said.
Plans are in the works to honor Turman at this year’s game, along with future games. “My main thing is that we want to do our part to make sure people never forget him,” Burns said.
Staff writers Alexis Stevens and Michael Carvell contributed to this report.