Sam Westmoreland, a freshman offensive lineman at Mississippi State, was found dead at a church on Wednesday, police told TMZ.
A spokesperson for the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office said they discovered Westmoreland’s body after they were called to Blackjack Missionary Baptist Church in Starkville regarding a death investigation.
Upon arrival, police canvased the scene, and cleared it after a couple hours later. The spokesperson said authorities still had “no reason to suspect foul play” at this point.
Mississippi State said that the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office, the Oktibbeha County Coroner’s Office and university departments are working together on the investigation.
Westmoreland, who was a native of Tupelo, MS, was found dead two days before his 19th birthday. The 6-foot-4 offensive tackle was a freshman for the Bulldogs this year and was majoring in industrial technology.
“The Mississippi State Athletics Family is heartbroken by the sudden death of Sam Westmoreland,” 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.”
In a separate statement, Mississippi State athletics director John Cohen said, “We are heartbroken by the sudden loss of Sam Westmoreland. 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.”
Mississippi State president Mark E. Keenum added, “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.
“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.”
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