Kaleb Boateng, a walk-on player for the University of Florida football team until last year, died of a self-inflicted gunshot at his off-campus apartment, authorities said Friday.
Gainesville police said Boateng, 21, of Pompano Beach, Florida, was found by his father. Alachua County dispatch records showed 911 calls starting at 5:49 p.m. Thursday for a death investigation and gunshot wound at the apartment a few blocks west of campus.
A roommate confirmed Boateng had been living at the apartment since August. A group of men loading personal effects into Boateng’s Ford SUV said they knew Boateng but declined to talk about him. They appeared overcome by grief.
Kaleb Boateng was last enrolled as a UF student during the fall 2022 semester studying education, according to school records. He practiced as a 6-foot-4, 285-pound offensive lineman with the Gators in 2021 and left the team in August 2022, just before the inaugural season under new head coach Billy Napier.
“It’s hard to find the words in a moment like this,” Napier wrote on social media Friday. “This is a phone call you never want to receive as a parent or as a coach — especially about a former player. Although our time was short together, Kaleb was a Gator. He was a beloved friend, son and teammate.”
UF’s athletic program said Friday that mental health and grief counselors were available for student athletes and staff.
“We are extremely saddened by the news regarding former football team member Kaleb Boateng,” the program said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Former coach Dan Mullen said, “He always had a positive attitude and a great work ethic both on and off the field.”
It wasn’t clear whether or when the university was aware that Kaleb Boateng — either as a player or student — might have been experiencing mental health issues or depression.
A student recruiting assistant for the Gators, Hayden Knighton, said on social media that mental health and depression “are some of the toughest battles that all people deal with, especially athletes. No one knows what anybody is going through but never be afraid to ask for help. You are never alone in these battles.”
Before he came to Florida, Boateng played four games for Clemson in 2019 and made another single appearance in 2020 for the Tigers against Pitt and was named to the ACC honor roll.
“While he was only here a couple of years before moving on, we remember Kaleb as being a good teammate and always having a good spirit to him,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Friday. “Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and all of those who were blessed to know him.”
Boateng was considered one of the top offensive linemen in Broward County, where he played football for Fort Lauderdale High. He was highly recruited before selecting Clemson.
This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at [email protected]. You can donate to support our students here.