Albany-- Twenty-six-year-old Jackie Blanding was running in the Sand Dunes, when he collapsed just after 8:00AM.
Blanding and his teammates were on a pre-practice run when he collapsed onto the sand. His teammates called 911, put him in the back of a pickup truck, and drove out to Dunes Drive where they waited for an ambulance. But Blanding was already dead of cardiac arrest.
An autopsy will be performed to determine what caused it.
Blanding died just before the Albany State football team was supposed to have their first practice of the season. would have been Blanding's first practice with the Golden Rams.
The team was looking forward to the start of the 2003 football season for a lot of reasons. But that excitement has turned to grief and shock after the unexpected loss.
The Albany State practice field sat empty as today's first workout was naturally cancelled. Jackie Blanding is a defensive lineman from Riverdale. He transferred to Albany State from Middle Georgia College where an athletic representative at Middle Georgia said they could find no record of Blanding playing football there.
Of course, those records are incomplete after Middle Georgia disbanded its football program after the 2001 season.
This year , the NCAA instituted new pre-season practice rules to help athletes avoid heat problems. Those new rules include five single day practice sessions, only one in full gear, to help players get accustomed to the hot weather.
Albany State is scheduled to start the season August 30th at Valdosta State.