Wesley College freshman running back Latrell McCants died following a single-vehicle crash in suburban Washington D.C. Sunday evening.
Prince George's County Police reported the 19-year-old was driving on Surratts Road in Cheltenham, Maryland at 5:40 p.m. Sunday, June 6, 2021 when his vehicle left the road, struck a pole, and then caught on fire.
Police said they are continuing to investigate why the vehicle left the roadway.
McCants quickly made an impact for Wesley on his first year in Dover, scoring three total touchdowns during Wesley's three-game spring season following the pandemic postponement of fall play.
Wesley Head Coach Chip Knapp, who has since taken a job at Dover High School, said the Suitland (MD) graduate's future was bright.
"He was on his way to being an All-American here at Wesley, just after seeing what he did his freshman year in the spring."
Knapp said that became clear at practice, where he would try to take away defensive reads by slightly altering his position, looking to throw off defensive keys.
"Veteran tailbacks, they could line up in different places. I'd see him, and tell him he was lined in the wrong spot, and he's like 'Coach, I'm just doing what you told me.' Most freshman can't figure that out, but he was way ahead of the game there. I kept trying to correct him, and he kept giving me the 'I got it coach' hand, and he was right every time. So I told him I won't say it any more, I won't try to correct you because you're way ahead of me."
Former Wesley cornerback Coray Williams, who is still looking to build a professional career, said McCants asked to join in during a training session just after settling in on campus and quickly showed confidence belying his youth.
"He was not your typical freshman. He came in with the mindset to start, and since day one he proved to himself he could do it. For him acting like a vet, that just shows not just how good of an athlete he was, but how committed he was to his craft, and his work."
Knapp said he had the upside of some of Wesley's top running backs including Petie Davis and Jamar Baynard.
"It's hard to imagine he was here and doing so well one day, and he's gone the next. It's still hard to believe."
Suitland High School coach Ed Shields said his community was "devastated" by the news of McCants' death.
Shields had been working with McCants as recently as last week on where the running back would go next fall as Wesley College is disbanding. He said within minutes, his favorite part of Latrell shined through.
"Great spirit, he cared about people. He would make you smile just being around him, it would make you smile. You would be engaged, you would laugh, we were just laughing Thursday. Some people have it, some people don't, he had it."
Shields said just like at Wesley, McCants made an impact immediately even in high school, and said he had lofty goals, but also the maturity to know there are important things besides football.
"He knew he wanted to be something. He said 'Coach, I'm going to get my degree, but I'm looking to play in the NFL, but I'm going to have my degree so I have something to fall back on."
McCants' third quarter touchdown against Christopher Newport will stand as the final rushing touchdown in Wesley history, as the school is preparing to be acquired by Delaware State University on July 1.
It will also stand as the last touchdown of Latrell McCants' life.