Tyler Hilinski, a quarterback for the Washington State Cougars who was poised to take the reigns of the program next season, died Tuesday of an apparent suicide. He was 21 years old.
A Pullman PD release said that after Hilinski didn’t show up for a team workout, police investigated and found him with a gunshot wound to the head and a suicide note nearby.
Hilinski was a four-star recruit out of Sherman Oaks, Calif., who had been Luke Falk’s backup. He appeared in eight games this season, including starting the Holiday Bowl for an injured Falk, throwing for 1,176 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.
His crowning moment as a player at WSU was leading the Cougars back to a victory in the second game of the season, against Boise State. Coming on in the second half with WSU trailing by 21 points, Hilinski led the team to a triple-overtime victory, 47-44.
It was widely assumed that Hilinski, who would have been a redshirt junior, would be the starting quarterback next fall when the season opened on September 1 at Wyoming.
There are no words when there is a tragedy such as this. Our prayers go out to the Hilinski family.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
UPDATE (1/16, 9:30 pm.): WSU released the following statement from football coach Mike Leach and interim athletic director John Johnson tonight:
“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,” said Leach.
“The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinksi is devastating to all,” said Johnson. “Tyler was a tremendous individual, great friend and teammate, and he will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.
“Earlier tonight, the football team was brought together and informed of the tragedy. There, they were met by campus and department counseling and psychological services, including athletics’ on-staff clinical psychologist and a licensed mental health counselor, along with WSU Athletics medical team. The university will continue to coordinate and provide ongoing counseling care for all student-athletes as long as needed.
“All WSU students needing immediate assistance can contact the 24/7 WSU Crisis Line at 509-335-2159. Staff and faculty can receive assistance at the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) State toll-free number at 1-877-313-4455.”