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Ohio State football strength and conditioning volunteer dies after pickup basketball game

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Jake Nickle, a volunteer on the Ohio State football team’s strength and conditioning staff, died Friday afternoon after losing consciousness during a pickup basketball game at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, OSU athletic spokesman Dan Wallenberg confirmed to The Lantern.

Jake, 22, was transported to the OSU Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

“He died doing the thing that he loved doing,” Jake’s father, Lawrence, told The Lantern. “He wanted to be a strength and conditioning coach.”

Lawrence said Jake didn’t have any pre-existing conditions, but that he “was told to decondition himself.”

“He wasn’t allowed to lift or anything,” Lawrence said, adding that Jake had been experiencing “light-headedness.”

Jake, a Marysville, Ohio, native, graduated last year from Capital University, where he played on the football team’s defensive line.

During the 2009 season, he recorded 21 tackles, 3.5 sacks and one interception in 10 games.

He majored in health and fitness management, according to his Facebook page.

Jake’s grandmother, Florence, told The Lantern: “He was sure committed to his sport. To his grandfather and I, he was a good boy. He was a great student-athlete. He will be missed.

“It’s just such a loss to all of us.”

In an e-mail to The Lantern, Henry Stanford, Nickle’s coach at Capital, said: “Jake was one of the finest young men I had the honor of coaching. The best way for me to describe Jake is competitive, caring, tremendous work ethic, great student-athlete. The Crusader Nation has lost a great member. He was special and an inspiration to all that have played with him, coached and had pleasure of knowing him. He will be remembered.”

Jake has one brother, Lucas, who is 21.

Troy Sutton, an OSU strength and conditioning assistant, posted on his Twitter account, @StrengthCoachT, about 3 p.m.: “Just lost a fellow Buckeye today our Strength Staff will never be the same. He spent 24 of his last 31 hrs on this earth training the Bucks.”

Lawrence said an autopsy will be conducted Saturday and services might be held Tuesday. He said he won’t be sure about the services until Sunday.

A number of players posted condolences on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

On his Facebook profile, freshman receiver Bradley Roby wrote: “Life is crazy man. One day you can be perfectly fine. Then the next, gone forever. RIP Jake.”

Tight end Spencer Smith wrote: “Please pray for the OSU football family. We lost a brother today. RIP Jake.”

Former linebacker Brian Rolle wrote: “RIP JAKE…..May God be with your love ones.”

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