Luke Falk honoring late teammate Hilinski at Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. -- Washington State QB Luke Falk has two missions this week as he competes at the Reese's Senior Bowl.

He'll be looking to prove himself on a big stage against some of the nation's top prospects at the annual all-star game, and he'll be honoring his late teammate, QB Tyler Hilinski.

Falk decided to change his jersey number from 4 to 3 this week at the Senior Bowl after Hilinski was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head on Jan. 16. Hilinski wore No. 3 for the Cougars.

"I felt like it's what I needed to do," Falk said on Tuesday during media day at the Senior Bowl. "He needs to be remembered. He was an amazing person, an amazing soul. This guy was one of the most outgoing, bubbly ... just a guy you really want to be around. People need to know it."

Falk, who attended a candlelight vigil for Hilinski on Friday, wore a white hat with Hilinski's red No. 3 on the side of it during the media session on Tuesday.

They were teammates for the past three seasons, with Hilinski serving as Falk's backup. Falk said he and Hilinski pushed each other to be at their best, but that the competition was out of love.

It's clear Hilinski will never be far from mind for Falk this week as he continues to mourn the loss of his friend.

"I think all of us that were close to him just kind of go back and ask ourselves 'were there signs, what could we have done?' I think we all kind of feel a little bit of guilt," Falk said. "I wish I could give him one more hug, one more pat on the butt and let him know he's loved."

Falk hopes Hilinski's passing will lead to more awareness about the issue of suicide and a reexamination of a culture that discourages seeking help.

"I really want people to start talking about suicide," Falk said. "It's the second-leading killer in men from 18-45 years old and I don't think we're doing enough to talk about it and get those people help. I think us as men really suppress our emotions and feel like we can't express what's really going on and how we feel. I think we need the resources and trust that we can do that."

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