‘A happy-go-lucky kid with no shortage of friends’

Loss of one of WSC’s freshmen football players hits campus hard


Photo courtesy of Mike Grosz

Eddie Key III was a freshman at WSC and a member of the football team when he was found dead in his dorm room on the evening of Feb. 8.

Derek Pufahl, Staff Writer

Wayne State College’s head football coach remembered Eddie Key III as “a happy-go-lucky kid with no shortage of friends.”

“He moved from a big city to a small town and fell in love with Wayne State,” Wildcat coach Dan McLaughlin said on Tuesday.

Key, 18, a freshman defensive tackle for the Wildcats, was found dead at 7:10 Saturday in his room in Berry Hall. Wayne County Attorney Amy Miller confirmed autopsy results that Key died from a pulmonary edema.

Key came to Wayne from Lincoln North Star High School. According to many, he was a great asset on WSC’s scout team. Dedicated and excited, he looked forward to his future with Wayne State.

Key’s death has left his family, teammates and friends with a deep grief. They are being provided with ongoing counseling assistance.

On Saturday night, the football coaches broke the news at a team meeting.

Players were devastated, and another meeting was held Sunday night that allowed for the added attendance of some players who were out of town Saturday. Friends and fellow players prayed and told stories about Key, comforting one another.

“They brought the team in, told everybody. We took it pretty hard and did a lot of praying. I couldn’t believe it,” Tyler Hoppes, teammate and friend of Key, told Omaha’s WOWT. “I was with the kid before I talked to him, and I was like ‘ya man, I’ll see you tomorrow.’ It was just heartbreaking.”

Key’s family members spoke with the Lincoln Journal Star. Eddie’s mother, Stephanie Key, remembered her son as a gentle giant who addressed adults as “ma’am” or “sir,” lived his faith in God and made people feel like they’d known him their whole lives, even if it had just been a few hours.

Key was born eight weeks premature. But he grew into a 285-pound lineman. Stephanie Key wants people to remember most of all that he was a man of faith.

Key’s roommate, Nate Rogers, also spoke with WOWT. “I’ll never forget him. Nobody else is going to forget him,” Rogers said. “This season will be dedicated to him.”

“I wish we knew more,” McLaughlin said. That seems to be the shared feeling on campus.

The funeral for Eddie Key III will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Lincoln. There will be a viewing from noon to 7 p.m. Friday at Metcalf Funeral Home.

Wayne State College plans to have a service of remembrance on campus sometime after the Lincoln funeral. The date and time have yet to be determined.