Samuel Westmoreland, a freshman offensive lineman on the Mississippi State University football team, died Oct. 19, the school has announced that same day. A native of Tupelo, Mississippi, Westmoreland would’ve turned 19 on Oct. 21.
“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,” MSU 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.”
“The Mississippi State Athletics Family is heartbroken by the sudden death of Sam Westmoreland,” MSU head football 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. 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.”
Westmoreland was found late Wednesday morning at a church in Starkville, Mississippi, where MSU is located, Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Capt. Brett Watson told NBC affiliate WTVA of Tupelo.
No foul play is suspected, Watson said. A cause of death has not been made public.
Westmoreland attended and played football at Tupelo High School.
“Our heart breaks today with the passing of Sam Westmoreland,” Tupelo High School football coach Ty Hardin said.
“Sam was fantastic young man, brother, son and teammate. He was a leader, and his positivity was like no other. His teammates and coaches viewed Sam as a ray of sunshine with a contagious smile. He was even voted a team captain his senior year. His leadership and impact on our program will be carried on forever.”
The No. 24 Mississippi State football team next plays Oct. 22 when it travels to play the sixth-ranked University of Alabama Crimson Tide.