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Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski passes away in suspected suicide, police say

Hilinski, 21, had been at WSU for three years.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead in his apartment on Tuesday, police in Pullman, Wash., announced Tuesday night. Detectives and the county coroner’s office are investigating and suspect the cause of death was suicide, police said.

Hilinski, 21, had just finished his redshirt sophomore season in Pullman, where he was the Cougars’ backup quarterback. He was a three-star recruit in the class of 2015, when the 247Sports Composite ranked him as the country’s No. 24 pro-style passer.

“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler’s passing,” Washington State coach Mike Leach said in a statement. “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.”

The school’s interim athletic director, John Johnson, said players were informed earlier Tuesday and that the school had made counseling available to them for “as long as needed.” Washington State was to introduce a new athletic director, Pat Chun, on Wednesday, but postponed that announcement after Hilinski’s passing.

Hilinski developed as a player over the years. He took a redshirt in 2015, his first season on campus, then appeared in four games the next year and eight in 2017. He had just made his first career start in a Holiday Bowl loss to Michigan State, Dec. 28 in San Diego. He threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns that night and was likely to challenge for Washington State’s starting quarterback role in 2018.

Hilinski is from Claremont, Calif., and went to high school at nearby Upland. He fell for Washington State early in his recruitment and committed to play there nearly a year before his National Signing Day.

“I loved the coaching staff and the atmosphere there. It felt like the perfect place,” Hilinski said then. “They really wanted me and I really wanted them so there was no reason to wait.” He went on to throw for more than 1,000 yards in action scattered across two seasons, trusted by coach Mike Leach to operate a pass-heavy offense.

Hilinski arrived in Pullman in January 2015, when he enrolled early before his first season in the football program. He became part of the community there, and his passing will leave holes in a lot of hearts.