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Mississippi State football player is dead at 18

Sam Westmoreland, a freshman majoring in industrial technology, was days from his 19th birthday.

A Mississippi State University student and offensive lineman died Wednesday, the school said in a statement.

Samuel Westmoreland of Tupelo, Mississippi, was a freshman majoring in industrial technology, the school said in a statement.

Westmoreland would have turned 19 on Friday, according to his athletics page biography.

Samuel Alton Westmoreland.
Samuel Alton Westmoreland.Courtesy Mississippi State University

“One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned while leading this great university is that the tragic loss of one of our students diminishes all of our students — and all of us at Mississippi State feel the impact of Sam Westmoreland’s death,” University President Mark E. Keenum said in a statement.

Westmoreland was found late Wednesday morning at church in Starkville, Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Capt. Brett Watson told NBC affiliate WTVA of Tupelo.

No foul play is suspected, Watson told the station.

Additional details about Westmoreland's death were not immediately available.

Head football coach Mike Leach and athletics director John Cohen said they were heartbroken.

"Sam was a beloved son, brother and teammate, and a tremendous young man with a limitless future," Leach said in a statement. "He will always be remembered and deeply missed by everyone who knew and loved him."

Westmoreland was a graduate of Tupelo High School, where he played football. In a statement the Tupelo School District shared Wednesday on Twitter, the high school's football coach said Westmoreland was a leader who was voted a team captain his senior year.

"Sam was a fantastic young man, brother, son and teammate," coach Ty Hardin said. "His teammates and coaches viewed Sam as a ray of sunshine with a contagious smile. ... His leadership and impact on our program will be carried on forever."

The university said it is working with the sheriff's and county coroner's offices to determine what happened. It said counseling sessions are available.