LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A 24-year old Polk County teacher and former Lakeland High School football player is remembered as an enthusiastic educator and team player.

Coach Bill Castle

“He was a quiet kid, he worked hard and everybody respected him on our team,” said Lakeland High School football coach Bill Castle.

D’Anthony Dorsey played linebacker on the team in the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

During his senior year, the team ended the season 11-1. He was also a wrestler.

Coach Castle said he was someone his teammates could count on – a role model.

“He was a good player for us but just, a better human. Just a solid kid,” he said. “It’s just a terrible loss for our football family and definitely for his family. So sad at an early age – 24 years old.”

Courtesy: Lydia Dorsey

With goals to become a pharmacist, Dorsey turned to teaching during the pandemic.

He was a marine biology teacher at Auburndale High School.

Dorsey’s family told News Channel 8 he got sick after the first week of school.

It is not known whether he was exposed to COVID-19 at school.

He spent three weeks on a ventilator at Lakeland Regional Health before he died Tuesday night, according to his family.

His mother, Lydia Dorsey, did not know whether he was vaccinated.

“I just don’t know and I wish I did know because I think it would matter one of way or the other – either to tell the story he wasn’t vaccinated and he’s young and healthy and look what happened or if he was vaccinated, to say even though you’re vaccinated, still wear your mask, still be cautious,” she said.

His mother said Dorsey did not have any underlying health issues before contracting COVID-19.

Courtesy – D’Anthony Dorsey

Auburndale High School principal Tye Bruno wrote on a social media post, Dorsey was enthusiastic about teaching and passionate about science.

“He was a gentle giant whose calm and caring presence was appreciated by everyone on campus. His classroom was a safe environment where students felt comfortable asking questions and sharing their thoughts,” wrote Bruno in the statement.