1 of 2

Buy Photo

AP Photo/GoldenBearSports.com, Michael Pimentel

This Oct. 12, 2013 photo released by GoldenBearSports.com shows California's Ted Agu, right, tackling UCLA's Damien Thigpen, in Pasadena, Calif. Agu died Friday morning, Feb. 7, 2014. He was 21. The school announced Agu's death and said its thoughts and prayers were with Agu's family, friends and teammates.

2 of 2

Buy Photo

AP Photo/GoldenBearSports.com, Nathan Phillips

Ted Agu

BERKELEY — California football player Ted Agu, a Frontier High graduate, died Friday morning at age 21 after collapsing during a training run with his teammates.

“This is one of those tragedies that no one can understand and comprehend,” an emotional coach Sonny Dykes said at a news conference hours after the death.

“Ted was a very special young man. As a coach, you have the opportunity to be around a lot of special kids day in and day out. He was a special young man. He just had a passion and energy for life that’s contagious. He will be deeply missed. Our players loved him dearly and he was a big part of our family.”

Agu was on a training run near Memorial Stadium with his teammates early Friday morning that was supervised by multiple members of the team’s medical staff.

Team physician Dr. Casey Batten said the medical staff saw he had difficulty completing the workout and he was transferred by cart about 150 yards to the stadium.

“He was on the back of the cart, he was talking, he was hydrating, he did not exhibit any labored breathing or other signs until he got to the north tunnel,” Batten said.

He then collapsed when he got to the medical facility at the Simpson Center at the stadium around 7 a.m. and emergency medical personnel were alerted and Agu was given CPR. He was quickly taken to Alta Bates Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

A medical examiner will determine the cause of death, a process that can take several weeks.

Batten said Agu never had any previous problems with workouts or practice during his time at Cal.

Frontier coach Rich Cornford, who began coaching Agu shortly after the player's sophomore prep season in the spring of 2008, said he was stunned.

“He was a great kid,” Cornford said. “I loved him. Great personality, worked his tail off, got the job done in the classroom, leader on the team, tough as nails. Everything you could want in the kid. He was universally loved by his teammates.”

Cornford said Agu carried a 3.3 grade-point average at Cal, where he was working toward a pre-med degree.

“He had a really bright future in front of him,” Cornford said. “He was planning on going to med school.”

Agu, listed at 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, was a two-time all-league selection at defensive end and was first-team All-Area as senior in 2009.

He arrived at Cal as a walk-on before earning a scholarship last year. He played seven games last season, recording six tackles. Agu, who was called the “ultimate team guy” by Dykes, played five games the previous two seasons.

“He’s a walk-on who came here because he loved the game,” Dykes said. “He played a lot for us last season, played some on scout team. When on the scout team, he attacked that with the same vigor as he prepared for games. He’s someone who had a passion for life, loved to learn, loved to laugh. He had a great sense of humor. He’s just a special young man.”

Cornford said Agu had heavy interest from Cal Poly and UC Davis but decided to walk on at Cal because of the school’s academic pedigree.

“He wanted to go to as prestigious an academic school as he could,” Cornford said. “He knew he wanted to be a doctor.”

Several of Agu’s former teammates and opponents in high school took to their Twitter accounts to remember him.

“Absolutely devastate to hear about the death of my friend, teammate and brother Ted Agu,” wrote Matt Darr, a teammate of Agu’s at Frontier and now a punter at Tennessee. “Tragic situation at Cal this morning.”

USC quarterback Cody Kessler, who was a year younger than Agu, played against him when he was at Centennial.

“RIP to my friend from back home Ted Agu who passed away this morning during conditioning for CAL. I’m still in shock man, I don’t believe it,” Kessler wrote.

Later, Kessler added, “Make sure you tell the people you care about that you love them every chance you get, life’s too short. Still can’t believe it. #RIPTedAgu.”

Cornford said no arrangements for services had been made Friday and that a fund would likely be set up to help pay for them. No details were available Friday.

Agu’s teammates at Cal were told of the death at an emotional team meeting Friday morning.

“They and we are devastated,” athletic director Sandy Barbour said. “We lost an incredible young man. Our student athletes have lost a brother who they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with in the classroom, on the athletic fields and in this community. We are all hurting.”

Barbour said the school is providing counseling sessions for the other players.

Agu was remembered fondly by other players. Freshman offensive lineman Erik Bunte called Agu the “best example of a true Cal football player” on his Twitter account.

Freshman defensive back Cameron Walker wrote on his Twitter account that he loved Agu and appreciated all he did to help ease his transition to college.

“You were a blessing to all of us and it hurts so bad to know that I’ll never walk next to ur locker again and hear your voice speaking to me,” Walker wrote. “You left too soon. But ur in a better place now & we all have another guardian angel watching over us. I love you, Ted. I miss you already. I’ll never forget you, Pre-Med Ted. You and your family are in my prayers.”