Kent State center Jason Bitsko found dead Wednesday morning

Sam Cooper
Kent State quarterback Colin Reardon (10) celebrates his touchdown carry with offensive linesman Reno Reda (55) and offensive linesman Jason Bitsko (54) in the first half of an NCAA college football game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013
Kent State quarterback Colin Reardon (10) celebrates his touchdown carry with offensive linesman Reno Reda (55) and offensive linesman Jason Bitsko (54) in the first half of an NCAA college football game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Kent State announced that starting center Jason Bitsko died unexpectedly Wednesday morning. He was just 21 years old.

According to a release from the school, Bitsko was “found unresponsive in his bedroom” at his apartment around 9 a.m. Police believe the cause of death to be “an undetermined medical issue.”

Bitsko, a redshirt junior, was in his fourth season with the Kent State program. He started all 12 games at center for the Golden Flashes in 2013 and was set to continue that role in 2014.

"Kent State University and the entire Kent community mourns his passing," said Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen. "We are heartbroken by the news of Jason's death. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, teammates and everyone whose lives he touched."

(via Kent State athletics)
(via Kent State athletics)

Bitsko, a native of Huber Heights, Ohio, did not appear at Wednesday morning’s practice and “calls were placed to Bitsko’s roommate.” The roommate then found Bitsko in his bed and called 911. Police arrived at the scene “within three minutes of the call,” but he could not be revived.

"Our players, coaches and everyone involved with our team are hurting because he was family," said Kent State head football coach Paul Haynes. "As a team, we will come together and get through this one day at a time."

Bitsko was recently honored by the program with the Gerald and Victoria Read Award for “exemplifying hard work and dedication beyond the call of duty.”

The team was told of Bitsko’s death following Wednesday morning’s practice. All additional football activities scheduled for Wednesday have been cancelled.

Kent State’s season opens up at home against Ohio University on August 30.

For more Kent State news, visit KentStateReport.com.

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