Mississippi State Student and Football Player Dies at 18

Samuel Westmoreland of Tupelo, Mississippi, was a freshman student-athlete majoring in industrial technology, the school said in a statement.

Westmoreland would have turned 19 on Friday, according to his athletics page biography.

“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,” University President Mark E. Keenum said in a written statement.

Westmoreland was found late Wednesday morning at Blackjack Missionary Baptist Church in Starkville, Capt. Brett Watson of the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office told NBC affiliate WTVA of Tupelo.

No foul play is suspected, Watson told the station.

Additional details about Westmoreland’s death were not immediately available.

Head football coach Mike Leach and athletics director John Cohen said they were heartbroken by the sudden death.

“Sam was a beloved son, brother and teammate, and a tremendous young man with a limitless future,” Leach said in a written statement. “He will always be remembered and deeply missed by everyone who knew and loved him.”

Westmoreland was a graduate of Tupelo High School, where he played football. In a statement shared Wednesday on Twitter by the Tupelo School District, the high school’s football coach said Westmoreland was a leader who was voted a team captain his senior year.

“Sam was a fantastic young man, brother, son and teammate,” coach Ty Hardin said. “His teammates and coaches viewed Sam as a ray of sunshine with a contagious smile. … His leadership and impact on our program will be carried on forever.”

The university said it is working with the sheriff’s and county coroner’s offices to determine what happened. It said counseling sessions are available.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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