Garrett Uekman, a freshman tight end in University of Arkansas was reported dead at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville on Sunday. The cause of the death is yet to be found.
According to Lt. Mat Mills in the university police department, there was nothing suspicious about Uekman’s death. However, his body will be sent to Arkansas state medical examiner for an autopsy.
The 19-year-old Uekman was surprisingly found unconscious and unresponsive in his dorm room at approximately 11:15 a.m. Sunday. Only one hour earlier, the player was seen by one of his roommates playing video games. Before his death, the university was not aware of any medical problems with Uekman.
Facing such a tragedy, the Arkansas Razorbacks players showed “shock and dismay” at an afternoon team meeting, said Jeff Long, the athletic director of Arkansas.
“Garrett Uekman was a special member of our family, and we are all saddened by his passing,” coach Bobby Petrino said in a statement. “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.”
Garrett Uekman was majoring in Applied Exercise Science in University of Arkansas. As a freshman, the young player redshirted last season and played nine games for the Razorbacks this season. As a backup tight end, Uekman hadn't received much publicity this season, nor had he recorded any stats. However, people around him consistently believed he was a genuine person, always smiling.
Like all of those kids who dreamed of playing for Arkansas, Uekman had impressive performance in his high school games in Little Rock, Ark., yet he never boasted about his past achievements.
Our son was living his dream of going to the U of A and playing football for the Razorbacks, Uekman's parents, Danny and Michelle, said in a statement through the university. He loved his school, his coaches, and his teammates and classmates, and was an influence and inspiration to so many people. We ask for your love and prayers for Garrett, our family and his friends as we all cope with this heavy and painful loss.
In memory of the remarkable player and grieving a tragic loss, the university planned to hold a candlelight vigil on Monday night at Bud Walton Arena. Petrino and another sophomore tight end Austin Tate, were scheduled to speak.
The team just celebrated a great victory over Mississippi State that increased their rankings. Facing the top-ranked LSU this Friday, the team must make sure they come out of bitterness and sorrow and prepare to continue for the future games.
Certainly the feelings of Garrett's family (are) that football and the University of Arkansas and the Razorbacks were very important to him, Long said. And that he would want us to continue to complete.