Undiagnosed condition caused high school football player's collapse

Photo credit: Marcia Nelson

The mother of a standout high school athlete said her son collapsed due to bleeding in his brain from an undiagnosed condition called arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

Northeast High School senior Jacquez Welch collapsed Friday during a football game in St. Petersburg. He remained in intensive care through Monday evening.

During a service Monday, Jacquez's mother, Marcia Nelson said her son was brain-dead and his organs would be donated. Doctors were scheduled to disconnect life support from the body of the accomplished student and football player, coinciding with the conclusion of a community walk to the hospital. 

Nelson stressed Monday evening football had nothing to do with her son's collapse. According to a tweet shared by the Northeast High football team, a CT scan revealed Welch suffered from a severe brain bleed on Friday. 

A representative said this was the “unfortunate result of a previously existing medical condition,” adding AVM caused bleeding in Jacquez's brain, which could have happened at any time.

Hundreds were in the stands at Northeast High Friday night when the senior captain collapsed on the football field. The two-way star had just scored on an offensive drive and was back on the field to play defense. Welch went down while making a tackle, and he never got back up. 

In a statement, a Pinellas County School spokesperson said grief counselors will be available Monday for any students who need to talk to someone. 

“Jacquez Welch is a beloved member of the Northeast High School football team and the school community. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”

Just one week ago, Nelson was celebrating her son’s first college scholarship offer. Now, she’s asking for prayers and support as he battles to recover. 

Days before the football game, a former Northeast High football captain was fatally shot. St. Pete police said 20-year-old Marquis Scott was targeted, and they continue to search for the shooter.