Mississippi State University football player Sam Westmoreland died Wednesday. He was 18.
Westmoreland’s cause of death was not immediately known, but police told the Mississippi Clarion Ledger that foul play was not suspected.
Westmoreland was a walk-on freshman offensive lineman. He would have turned 19 in two days, according to his school bio.
“Sam was a beloved son, brother and teammate, and a tremendous young man with a limitless future,” Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach said in a statement.
“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.”
The youth was found dead outside Blackjack Missionary Baptist Church, about 4 miles from Mississippi State’s campus in Starkville, police told the Clarion Ledger.
A Tupelo, Miss., native, Westmoreland grew up as a Mississippi State fan, according to his father’s Facebook page. He starred as an offensive lineman at Tupelo High School.
Mississippi State, ranked No. 24 in the country, remains scheduled to face No. 6 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night. Westmoreland had not appeared in any games for the Bulldogs during his freshman season.
The university said it was working alongside the sheriff’s and coroner’s offices in Oktibbeha County to investigate Westmoreland’s death.
“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,” Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum said.