Mississippi State Pays Tribute to Lineman Sam Westmoreland Who Died This Week

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Mississippi State Bulldogs paid tribute to offensive lineman Sam Westmoreland Saturday — three days after he tragically passed away.

Every Mississippi State player’s helmet featured a white decal with maroon lettering that read “SW” and Westmoreland’s No. 78 just below.

“Bigger than football,” Mississippi State tweeted out.

Fellow SEC member, the Missouri Tigers, joined the Bulldogs in honoring Westmoreland.

The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated Mississippi State, 30-6, Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

Mississippi State’s Sam Westmoreland Dead at 18

Westmoreland died two days before his 19th birthday, which would have been on Friday. The native of Tupelo, Mississippi had yet to appear in a game this season.

Per the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office, Westmoreland was found dead upon arrival at Blackjack Missionary Baptist Church. The church is just four miles off of Mississippi State’s campus. The university announced his death with no details of how it happened. An investigation is currently ongoing, though no foul play is suspected.

Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach issued the following statement on Westmoreland’s death.

“The Mississippi State athletics family is heartbroken by the sudden death of Sam Westmoreland,” Leach said. “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.”

Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum said that Westmoreland’s death is felt by the entire university.

“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,” Keenum said in a statement. “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.”