An 18-year-old offensive lineman at Mississippi State University died unexpectedly on Wednesday, just two days before his birthday.
Samuel Westmoreland, of Tupelo, Mississippi, announced back in March that he had decided to join the team after a “long and exciting recruiting process.”
Westmoreland, who received awards for his football achievements while at Tupelo High School, decided to major in industrial technology at Mississippi State University.
“The Mississippi State Athletics Family is heartbroken by the sudden death of Sam Westmoreland,” Head Coach Mike Leach said in a statement. “Sam was a beloved son, brother and teammate, and a tremendous young man with a limitless future.”
“He will always be remembered and deeply missed by everyone who knew and loved him,” Leach continued. “The entire MSU Family mourns as our thoughts and prayers go out to the Westmoreland family. Our highest priority is the support of the Westmoreland family and our student-athletes during this troubling time.”
No details were released by the university about the cause of Westmoreland’s death and the school said that it was cooperating with an ongoing investigation into the matter by Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office and the Oktibbeha County Coroner’s Office.
“One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned while leading this great university is that the tragic loss of one of our students diminishes all of our students—and all of us at Mississippi State feel the impact of Sam Westmoreland’s death,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “My prayers are with Sam’s family and friends, with his MSU teammates and coaches, and with the Tupelo community during this most difficult time.”
MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen said: “We are heartbroken by the sudden loss of Sam Westmoreland. Mississippi State is a family, and we are all mourning during this trying time. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Westmoreland family and everyone who knew and loved Sam.”
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement, “We are incredibly sad to learn of Mississippi State Football student-athlete Sam Westmoreland’s passing. I know the entire Southeastern Conference family sends its condolences to the Westmoreland family, his teammates, classmates and all who knew Sam. Our prayers today are with everyone at Mississippi State.”
Former Mississippi State University Head Coach Dan Mullen responded to the tragedy in a statement on social media.
“Very sad to hear of the passing of Sam Westmoreland at Mississippi State,” Mullen wrote. “The loss of a teammate is something you hope to never experience. Our family sends prayers to his family, friends and the Mississippi State Football family.”
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