Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Arkansas Razorbacks football program was stunned Sunday when it was announced that redshirt freshman tight end Garrett Uekman was found dead in his dorm room Sunday morning. Adam Alter of KNWA/KARK said the team was holding an emergency meeting at 1:30 pm Central Time.
The Arkansas athletic department confirmed Uekman's death in a statement released later Sunday afternoon. Said head coach Bobby Petrino: "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."
A candlelight vigil in Uekman's honor has been planned for Monday at 8 pm at Bud Walton Arena. Funeral details have not been released, but players have been assured that they may travel to it and visit the Uekman family.
ArkansasNews.com contacted Uekman's high school coach, who expressed the level of devastation this news has caused.
“I was just stunned,” said Ellis “Scooter” Register, who was Little Rock Catholic’s head coach when Uekman played at the school. “I didn’t get up out of my chair for 30 minutes. …
“It just goes to show you how really fragile life is. We can’t take anything for granted. He was so young, vibrant and strong. He had his whole future in front of him.”
According to the ArkansasNews.com report, after the team meeting, many players were seen outside the Broyles Athletic Center on campus crying and in a distraught state. Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said, "This is a brother of theirs. They handled it like you would expect them. There was certainly shock and dismay, tears and disbelief, all of those human emotions that you would expect if you lost a loved one." Afterwards, some players wished their teammate farewell on Twitter.
Star running back Knile Davis also weighed in. "Garrett Uekman rest in peace my brother Watch over us as we continue to chase the dream u started with us. I love u and will forever miss u"
There are few details released so far about the circumstances surrounding Uekman's death. He was found unresponsive in his dorm room late Sunday morning, an hour after he had been observed playing video games and seemingly "in good health." The medical report indicates that there are no suspicious factors. He participated in Arkansas' 44-17 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday, but did not record any statistics. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette captured this picture of Uekman leaving the field after the game. The victory propelled Arkansas to No. 3 in the nation a week before the team's trip to top-ranked LSU this coming Saturday.
Uekman's parents, Danny and Michelle, released a statement through the university.
"Our son was living his dream of going to the U of A and playing football for the Razorbacks," the statement read. "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."
Uekman had no known pre-existing medical issues, according to Long, and his body will be sent to the State Medical Examiner for an autopsy as per standard procedure. He was only 19 years old.