GILMER — The Gilmer Buckeyes football team lost not only “as good a receiver as I’ve ever coached,” but a “very fun-loving, sweet” individual when junior wide receiver Desmond Pollard died Sunday, reportedly having collapsed while playing basketball with friends in the Dallas area, said Gilmer football coach Jeff Traylor.
Cause of death remained unknown to school officials pending autopsy results, said Traylor, who said Pollard also played basketball and ran track for Gilmer High School. The wide receiver, whose exact age was not immediately available, was a key player on the Buckeye football team that reached the state Class 3A playoffs’ third round last season. He led the Buckeyes in receiving with 49 catches for 958 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Gilmer ISD Superintendent Rick Albritton said counselors will be available at the high school Tuesday — the first day of classes since Pollard’s death because a winter storm caused the school to be closed Monday.
Traylor told The Tyler Paper on Monday that Pollard’s family told him the youth was playing basketball in the Dallas area, but the coach was unable to confirm a report the incident occurred in the city of Mesquite. Albritton said Monday school officials have been unable to determine what hospital Pollard was taken to.
“Everybody’s just devastated. Kids are upset,” Albritton said in describing the community’s reaction to the death. The superintendent said Pollard was “a very, very pleasant young man” who had a “smile everywhere he went.”
“We all love Desmond,” said Traylor. “He was an incredible player” and “happy-go-lucky” youth, the coach said.
Traylor also said Doug Martin at East Texas Professional Credit Union in Longview has established a memorial fund to help defray funeral expenses. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.