The Arkansas football family is mourning today the death of 19-year-old freshman tight end Garrett Uekman. Uekman was found “unconscious and unresponsive” yesterday morning in his dorm room. The cause of death is not known and the body will be sent to the Arkansas state medical examiner for autopsy.
Bobby Petrino released the following statement to the press yesterday:
“Garrett Uekman was a special member of our family, and we are all saddened by his passing. His loss is a terrible shock, and it makes you realize how precious life is. Garrett was a great teammate and loved being a Razorback. My sympathies are with his entire family during this incredibly trying time, and I share in their grief.
Our team will honor and show our respect to Garrett.”
He also spoke of Uekman while fighting back tears to read another short statement:
“Garrett was a special member of our family. The team and I were shocked today when we learned of his tragic passing. The entire football program is grieving his loss.
Last night he was very proud of the win in Little Rock, which came on the same field that he played his high school football on. He truly loved being a Razorback and was loved by his teammates.
I am proud of the way he represented our program. He did everything right and had one of our high GPAs on the football team. There was nothing Garrett loved more than competing.”
Arkansas AD Jeff Long released this statement:
“Garrett’s loss is a terrible shock for the University of Arkansas and the Rezorback program. Our sincere condolences got out to his family and to all of those who knew him. He will be missed by many friends, teammates and others throughout campus. The well-being of our student-athletes is at the very core of our mission and when a tragedy like this happens it is a tremendous loss to the entire campus community. We will work with various campus services to provide support for the Uekman family, our student-athletes, coaches and staff during this difficult time.”
Uekman played in nine games for Arkansas this season. He played on Saturday against Mississippi State in his hometown of Little Rock.
The UA team was told of their teammate’s death in a team meeting yesterday afternoon.
From a football perspective — which is admittedly much less important than a player’s life — the Razorbacks will have to regroup quickly for Friday’s showdown with LSU. Uekman’s death came on the same day that Arkansas learned it had moved to #3 in the BCS standings.
Along with Mississippi State’s Nick Bell and Alabama’s Aaron Douglas, Uekman is the third SEC football player to pass away since last fall. (If we’ve missed someone else, we apologize in advance.)