What should have been the best weekend in one college football player’s life turned into tragedy when he was injured and his college teammate killed in a shooting early Sunday morning at a party in Topeka, Kan.
Corey Ballentine, a 23-year-old senior cornerback at Washburn University in Topeka, was the 180th pick in the NFL draft after being selected by the New York Giants. According to ESPN, he was the 2018 Cliff Harris Award winner as the small college defensive player of the year and was one of three Division II players selected to the Senior Bowl.
After being drafted by the Giants, Ballentine said on his Twitter account “It’s all a crazy dream until you do it. I can’t even explain the emotions I have right now. S/o the people that told me to pick a more realistic career. This is as real as it gets. Thank you to the Giants organization for believing in me. It’s only up from here. #GiantsPride.”
Ballentine and his Washburn teammate, 23-year-old defensive back Dwane Simmons, were at a house party when the shooting occurred. WIBW 13 News reports that police responded to reports of gunfire around 12:45 a.m. An officer on the scene told 13 News Simmons died in the street from a gunshot wound.
Ballentine suffered non life-threatening injuries and is expected to make a full recovery.
The investigation into the shooting is ongoing, and no information has been released on any possible suspects.
According to ESPN, the Giants are aware of the shooting and have been in contact with Ballentine. In a statement, they expressed their sympathy for Simmons’ death, saying “Our thoughts are with Dwane Simmons’ family, friends and teammates and the rest of the Washburn community.”
Washburn President Jerry Farley wrote in a statement: “Any time we lose a student it is a sad occasion, but it is particularly poignant to lose a student through such a senseless act. Both Dwane and Corey have been great examples and representatives of the football team and of Washburn University in general. This was a terrible way to end a day which should have been a day of celebration and a day to look forward to Dwane’s upcoming year at Washburn and the beginning of Corey’s professional career.”