SPRINGDALE (KDKA) — Family and friends gathered Friday to remember a local high school football player who died suddenly at his college in Ohio.

Joel Wunnenberg graduated last year from Springdale High School and was living his dream of playing football at Marietta College in Ohio, but the freshman linebacker died Thursday on campus.

Joel’s sudden passing came as a shock to his family who describe him as a wonderful son and the type of person you would want to be.

“He was the kindest man. He thought bad of no one,” said Kim Wunnenberg, Joel’s mom.

On Friday night, those who loved Joel gathered for a vigil at Springdale High School to remember the young man who was taken too soon.

“The type of kid that never missed practice, never missed a workout,” said Dave Leasure, Joel’s former coach. “He gave it everything he had, but what made him special is that he always did the right thing.”

They released balloons and shared stories.

“No matter what Joel had going on, he was always happy and there was a glow about him,” said Dante Mahomeister, a friend.

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But now Joel’s family is left wondering – why?

“He was someone I hope you all carry in your hearts for the rest of your life,” said Joel’s mom.

Authorities have not released Joel’s official cause of death.