Honolulu, HI – The University of Hawaii confirmed the death of running back Willis Wilson on Saturday.
Wilson died of an apparent drowning off Sandy Beach after wading into shallow water with four other people early Saturday morning, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
A Honolulu Fire Department report says the other members of the group noticed around 4:30 a.m. that Wilson was no longer with them. His body was recovered later in the morning.
Hawaii coach Norm Chow called Wilson "a very fun-loving young man, who was well-liked by his teammates."
"He was an exciting football player who came to us from the University of Washington and whom we felt would help us at running back," Chow said in a statement. "He overcame some obstacles in his life and he was the perfect lesson to our team to never quit. Our thoughts and prayers are with Willis' family during this difficult time."
Wilson, 21, was a walk-on at Hawaii after transferring from Washington and had not appeared in a game this season. His father, Jack, played for Hawaii in the 1980s, the school said.