JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Paul Royal was supposed to be on the Edward Waters College practice field Sunday at 8:00 a.m.
Instead, Royal's family is preparing to bury the promising young athlete.
"The mother was one day sending him off to me," said Brad Bernard, EWC head football coach. "Now she's sending him off to the good Lord."
The EWC incoming freshman was shot and killed Tuesday in his hometown of Miami.
Bernard said Royal was packed and ready to join the team for their first practice this weekend with a full scholarship.
"You sit back as a head coach and you think, 'Well, I should maybe have had camp last week and he'd be here now,'" Bernard said.
"We were going to be his second family," said Dexter Davis, EWC assistant football coach.
Davis recruited Royal. He said as he got to know the young man, he learned Royal's goal was to make his family proud.
"He understood it wasn't even about him," Davis said. "What he was doing, it was going to be about his family."
The coaches said Royal's locker will be be adorned with his jersey and cleats and will remain that way for the years he would have been with team.
"Great character kid, high GPA, high test scores and was just an all around kid," Davis said. "A young man who, outside of football, he was going to be something in society."
The coaches and several players will be leaving after the team's first practice Sunday to attend Royal's funeral Monday in Miami.
First Coast News