Lineman collapses and dies during morning run

Updated: August 7, 2003, 9:42 PM ET

ALBANY, Ga. -- A 26-year-old football player at Albany State died Thursday morning after participating in a team run before the first practice of the season.

Jackie Blanding, a defensive lineman, was running in the sand dunes near the Albany State campus when he collapsed just after 8 a.m.

The 6-foot-2, 270-pound Blanding was a walk-on transfer from Middle Georgia. This would have been his first season at Albany State after several years away from football, including time in the Army.

An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

"It's hard to explain. It's just one of those things that happens," Rams coach Mike White said. "It was a real nice morning. It wasn't hot at all."

This year, the NCAA instituted new preseason 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, a Division II program, is scheduled to open the season Aug. 30 at Valdosta State.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index