STARKVILLE, MI – Mississippi State University has announced on Wednesday that the football team’s offensive lineman, Sam Westmoreland, has tragically and unexpectedly passed away at the age of 18, just days shy of his 19th birthday which would have been on Friday.
Mississippi State coach Mike Leach expressed the university’s collective grief over Westmoreland’s passing in a statement, where he praised his talents on the field and extended his condolences to the young football player’s family and loved ones.
“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.”
Hailing from Tupelo, Mississippi, Westmoreland was found dead on Wednesday of unknown causes in Blackjack Missionary Baptist Church in Starkville by police responding to a 911 call.
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While the cause of Westmoreland’s death is currently a mystery, Mississippi State issued a statement where they said they are actively working with the Oktibbeha County sheriff and coroner’s offices in their investigation of the incident. However, police have stated that they do not believe that foul play was involved.
“We are heartbroken by the sudden loss of Sam Westmoreland,” said Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen. “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.”
The 6-foot, 4-inch Westmoreland was an All-Region selection at Tupelo High School, and was named to the 2022 Northeast Mississippi Football Coaches Association All-Star Game following his senior season.