Mississippi State’s football team announced Wednesday that freshman offensive lineman Sam Westmoreland died. He was 18 years old.
Westmoreland was a native of Tupelo, Mississippi. He graduated from Tupelo High School. Westmoreland hadn’t appeared in a game this season.
“The Mississippi State athletics family is heartbroken by the sudden death of Sam Westmoreland,” coach Mike Leach said in a release. “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. 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.”
Leach did not participate in the SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday morning, according to sources.
Mississippi State did not release any details regarding Sam Westmoreland’s death. The university is currently working with the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office, the MSU Division of Student Affairs and the MSU athletics department to determine the facts of the case, per a release.
MSU’s school president also weighed in on the tragic loss. “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,” school president Mark E. Keenum said. “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.”
No. 24 Mississippi State (5-2) travels to No. 6 Alabama (6-1) on Saturday.
Sam Westmoreland Mourned by Mississippi State Players, Coaches, and Fans
Clarion-Ledger reporter for Mississippi State Athletics Stefan Krajisnik posted updates to Twitter. He wrote: “Mississippi State has canceled its usual post-practice media availability today. Mike Leach, as you likely saw, also was not on today’s SEC coaches teleconference.”
Fans joined together on Twitter to send thoughts and prayers to the Westmoreland family.
“Sending all of my love and prayers to our football team and the parents & friends of Sam Westmoreland,” one fan wrtoe on Twitter. “Sam was a freshman offensive lineman & although I didn’t know him, it breaks my heart to hear of his passing. Pray for his friends, family, coaches, & teammates today.”
“Prayers for his family, friends, teammates and all who knew him,” another fan responded.
Andrea K. Hollis, director of on-campus recruiting at Mississippi State, tweeted out a message for his family. “Tough day of heavy, saddened hearts for our Bulldog Family today! You’ll certainly be missed, Sam. Prayers for the Westmoreland family, our players, and staff! FaMily Forever!”