The University of Hawai‘i Athletics Department has confirmed the passing of Willis Wilson, a running back on the football team.
“We are very saddened by the news of Willis’ passing,” head football coach Norm Chow said. “He was a very fun-loving young man, who was well-liked by his teammates. He was an exciting football player who came to us from the University of Washington and whom we felt would help us at running back. He overcame some obstacles in his life and he was the perfect lesson to our team to never quit. Our thoughts and prayers are with Willis’ family during this difficult time.”
Wilson, 21, a walk-on who transferred from Washington, did not appear in any games this season.
Born in Pearl City, O‘ahu, Wilson spent three years at UW, where he redshirted in 2010 and received the team’s Brian Stapp Special Teams Scout Player of the Year award. He did not appear in any games in 2011 and saw limited action in four games as a sophomore.
Wilson graduated from Lakes High School in Lakewood, Wash. He was an all-state running back and the South Puget Sound League’s offensive player of the year as a senior after rushing for 1,425 yards and 22 touchdowns in leading Lakes to the 3A state semifinals.
Wilson’s father Jack Wilson, Jr., played for UH in the late 1980s.
Editor’s note: Willes Wilson was swept out to sea at Sandy Beach on Oahu in the early morning hours of November 30 while he was there with friends. Rescue workers were able to recover his body at 8 a.m. about four hours later.