Former Belleville East three-sport standout Kyle Calloway was struck by a train and killed Saturday while jogging along railroad tracks in Vail, Ariz.
He was 29 years old.
The son of a career military service member, Calloway attended three high schools including Belleville East for his junior and most of his senior year.
As a junior center on the basketball team, he led the Lancers with 5.8 rebounds per game and was second with 11.1 points. Also an accomplished discus thrower, he eventually reached 180 feet at the Arizona high school he transferred to after Christmas break his senior year.
Football is where he excelled, however. As a senior interior lineman, he stood 6-foot-8 and weighed 278 pounds and was named to all-conference and the BND all-area teams.
“He was big but was a good enough athlete and had good enough hands that we tried him at tight end,” said the Lancers former track and head football coach Tim Funk. “He did fine at tight end, but told us he really wanted to move inside to offensive guard. That’s when he really took off.”
Calloway was offered a full scholarship to play football at Iowa after his junior season, despite being injured most of the year.
After his junior year and we could only cobble together four or five plays on film because he had been hurt all year. We sent it to Iowa and out of the 300 or something tapes they got of linemen, Kyle was the only one they offered.
Tim Funk, former Belleville East football and track coach
“After his junior year and we could only cobble together four or five plays on film because he had been hurt all year,” Funk said. “We sent it to Iowa and out of the 300 or something tapes they got of linemen, Kyle was the only one they offered.”
Calloway started 37 of his 38 games at Iowa and twice was named second team All-Big 10 as a defensive tackle.
He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL draft, but was released from the team during training camp. Calloway subsequently signed professional contracts with the Baltimore Ravens and Hartford Colonials of the United Football League, though he never got the chance to play.
Funk remembers Calloway as being quiet and keeping mostly to himself — perhaps a function of his many high school transfers — but was a very hard worker and top athlete. He said at one point, following his injury-riddled junior season, Calloway wanted to quit playing football.
“I remember being at Cracker Barrel eating with my family when he called me and told me he was going to quit,” Funk said. “I told him ‘no you’re not going to quit.’ I don’t mean to pat myself on the back, but he and his family still thank me for having that conversation. When he was drafted by the Bills, in fact, Kyle gave me the hat they presented to him as a thank you.
“It’s really a tragedy, what happened. It kind of makes you sick to your stomach.”
Union Pacific Railroad is investigating the accident.
According to The Gazette in Iowa City, funeral arrangements are delayed because the family is donating Calloway’s brain to study the potential effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a concussion-induced syndrome linked to football players.
“We are all stunned and very saddened to hear of the tragic accident claiming the life of Kyle Calloway,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said in a statement. “Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to Kyle’s family and to those who knew him. He was a valued and respected member of our program.”