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Willis Wilson, a star running at Lakes High School in Lakewood before joining the Washington Huskies as a walk-on, died early Saturday in an apparent drowning in Hawaii. He was 21.

Wilson spent three seasons at UW from 2010-12, earning UW’s Brian Stapp Special Teams Scout Player of the Year after the 2010 season. He had one carry for the Huskies in 2012. He then transferred to join the Hawaii football team as a walk-on this year.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, at around 4:30 a.m. Saturday, Wilson got separated from a group of five that was wading in shallow water at Sandy Beach.

Rescuers were called, and Wilson’s body was found a couple of hours later.

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Last Monday, Wilson rushed nine times for 115 yards and two touchdowns in an intrasquad scrimmage for Hawaii, the Star-Advertiser reported.

“We are very saddened by the news of Willis’ passing,” Hawaii coach Norm Chow said in a statement. “He was a very fun-loving young man, who was well liked by his teammates. He overcame some obstacles in his life and he was the perfect lesson to our team to never quit. Our thoughts and prayers are with Willis’ family during this difficult time.”

Wilson’s father, Jack Wilson Jr., is a former Hawaii football player.

Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or

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