Oregon State football player Fred Thompson died of an apparent heart attack while playing basketball at Dixon Recreation Center on campus on Wednesday night.

Thompson, a freshman defensive tackle, would have turned 20 on Sunday.

According to OSU officials, Thompson collapsed while playing basketball and was transported to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Calls were not returned by coach Mike Riley, who was on the road recruiting. Riley is headed back to Corvallis.

A press conference has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

The news spread fast and obviously hit teammates and other students hard on Wednesday night.

Crescent Valley High School graduate Kyle Gardner, a freshman and teammate of Thompson's, was shocked by the news, along with the rest of the team.

"Everybody on the team loved him," Gardner said, fighting back tears. "He was just one of those guys that was always just smiling and joking around with you. It's sad. We just don't know what to think. I just think everyone is in shock."

Gardner said the players met at the Valley Football Center after hearing the news and prayed for Thompson.

"We're all just hanging out right now in each others' rooms and praying for him and for his family," Gardner said. "Just praying for him and everyone who was close to him.

"We're just all trying to be here for each other."

Gardner can still remember when he met Thompson.

"The first day I got here over the summer he introduced himself and he was so nice," Gardner said. "He was one of the nicest guys and had such great intentions, too. He wanted to make the team better. He was just such a nice guy."

Other current and former players used Twitter as a way to express their feelings upon hearing the news.

Cornerback Jordan Poyer wrote: "R.I.P Fred I'm really going to to miss you bro. My prayers go out to your family."

Receiver Obum Gwacham tweeted: "R.I.P. Fred Thompson. Pray for this young man everyone."

Former cornerback James Dockery tweeted: "Man I'm just taken back right now. R.I.P. Fred. Life is too short. My prayers to his family and all of Beaver Nation, you will be missed."

Thompson was a 6-foot-4, 317-pounder from Richmond, Calif. He was the son of Freddy and Corrie Thompson and had two brothers.

Thompson was a three-star recruit out of Oakland Tech High in 2010, but delayed enrollment until the winter term of 2011 (January).

He came to OSU with a high upside and might have played as a true freshman this past season, but redshirted to recover from shoulder surgery to correct an old injury.

Riley expected him to compete for a starting job at defensive tackle next season.

Thompson had an impact on athletes beyond football. They, too, vented their feelings.

Basketball player Jared Cunningham tweeted: "Haven't cried in a long time. (Stuff) just got too real. I was just in study hall with you last week. R.I.P to my bruh Fred Thompson."

Gymnast Brittany Harris tweeted: "R.I.P. Fred. We love and miss you. You're gone, but never forgotten."

Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

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