Tyler Hilinski, a Washington State quarterback who played in eight games for the Cougars last season, was found dead in an apartment Tuesday with what the authorities said was apparently a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
The police in Pullman, Washington, where the university is located, said that officers went to the apartment complex around 4:30 p.m. to check on Hilinski after he did not show up for practice Tuesday.
They found Hilinski, 21, dead in the apartment, and they recovered a rifle and a suicide note. The authorities did not reveal the contents of the note.
In a statement, they said detectives were working with the Whitman County Coroner’s Office to conduct an investigation and confirm what they called “the suspected cause and manner of death.”
In a statement provided to The Associated Press, coach Mike Leach said the entire Washington State community was mourning Hilinski.
“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler’s passing,” Leach said. “He was an incredible young man and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was better for it.”
As a redshirt sophomore for the Cougars in 2017, Hilinski completed 130 of 179 passes for 1,176 yards and seven touchdowns. While the numbers were not sensational, it was enough to make him the presumed starter for Washington State heading into next season.
Hilinski’s best game of the season came in September against Boise State, in which he came on in relief of Luke Falk and rallied his team to a 47-44 overtime victory, overcoming a 21-point deficit.
In the Cougars’ last game of the season, the team got an early preview of Hilinski in the starting role as he was thrust into service for a 42-17 loss to Michigan State in the Holiday Bowl. It was a last-minute switch at the quarterback position, as Falk sat out with what was believed to be a wrist injury to his non-throwing hand.
Hilinski’s younger brother Ryan is a star high school quarterback in California. In September, Ryan Hilinski received an offer to join his older brother at Washington State as part of the school’s 2019 recruiting class, although he has not committed to the school.
The Hilinski family has been mostly quiet since the news broke, but Ryan Hilinski posted a message to Twitter late Tuesday night that read “Please keep my family in your prayers tonight.”