Tyler Hilinski, Washington State University’s backup quarterback, was found dead in his Pullman apartment Tuesday. A statement from Pullman police said he died apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. A rifle and a suicide note were found next to his body.
The 21-year-old redshirt sophomore from Upland High School in Claremont, CA., was absent from football practice. Police were summoned about 4:30 p.m. to the apartment complex to check on him. No further details were provided.
The athletic department released a statement from coach Mike Leach:
“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler’s passing. He was an incredible young man and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was better for it. The entire WSU community mourns as thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
Also responding was interim athletics director John Johnson:
“The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinksi is devastating to all. Tyler was a tremendous individual, great friend and teammate, and he will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.”
The school statement said the team was brought together and informed. They were met by campus and department counseling and psychological services, including athletics’ on-staff clinical psychologist and a licensed mental health counselor.
Hilinski, 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds, had his first career start Dec. 28 in the Holiday Bowl, replacing Luke Falk, the Pac-12 Conference career passing leader who sat out with a left wrist injury. In the 42-17 loss to 18th-ranked Michigan State, Hilinski completed 39 of 50 passes for 272 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
He was considered the leading candidate to start in the fall.
In eight appearances last season, Hilinski completed 130 of 179 passes for 1,176 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He led a comeback victory against Boise State by going 24 of 33 for 240 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in triple overtime. Against Arizona, he was 45 for 61 and 509 yards while passing for two TDs and rushing for two more.
Coming out of high school, Scout.com ranked him the No. 13 QB in the West and ninth in California.