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Washington State defensive back Bryce Beekman died Tuesday night according to the Pullman Police Department. He was 22.
Per the Spokane Spokesman-Review, police responded to a 5:44 p.m. call from an apartment that belonged to Beekman. The call was listed in the police activity log as “breathing problems” and Beekman was already dead when police arrived, police said. The cause of death has yet to be revealed. There were no signs of foul play, per police.
“We are in shock with the news of Bryce’s passing,” WSU athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement. “Bryce was a tremendous young man, great teammate and will be missed by all. We send our deepest condolences and prayers to the Beekman family and his many friends.”
New WSU head coach Nick Rolovich informed the team of the news on Tuesday night, the university said.
“My relationship with Bryce was still in its early stages, but I knew him to be a wonderful young man,” Rolovich said. “He was always positive and well respected amongst his teammates. My heart goes out to his family and friends.”
Beekman was the team’s fifth-leading tackler in 2019 and had 60 tackles. He started all 13 games for Washington State a season ago and was set to be a starter again in 2020.
Beekman enrolled at Washington State in January of 2019 after transferring from Arizona Western Junior College. He played the first three years of his high school career in Milwaukee before playing his senior season in Baton Rouge.
Per Washington State’s website, Beekman wore No. 26 with the Cougars in honor of former NFL All-Pro safety Sean Taylor.
Former Washington State coach Mike Leach said in a tweet that Beekman was an “incredible kid.”
Heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the Beekman Family and the Washington State University community. Bryce was an incredible kid who always had a smile and a kind word for everyone.
— Mike Leach (@Coach_Leach) March 25, 2020
Rolovich had a conference call with reporters on Tuesday (before learning of Beekman’s death) and said that he thought a majority of his team’s players were not in Pullman. Classes are not in session at Washington State because of the coronavirus outbreak and spring practices have been indefinitely put on hold.
“I don’t think this is a time where football should really open their mouth too much as far as ‘poor me,’” Rolovich said on Tuesday. “I think when the time is right and the people making decisions feel the time is right, we’ll get back to it and when we get back to it we’ll attack it with everything we’ve got. But there’s zero part of me for not doing football in this situation.
“We wouldn’t have their full attention. They have family, these kids have got their own lives to live. I think it’s the best thing right now to be concentrating on them and academics and if we can get some football stuff done as we move forward, we will, but a lot of the time we would be spending on football is being spent on recruiting and the uncertainty of when this thing would open back up.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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