PULLMAN, Wash. -- Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The 21-year-old Hilinski was discovered in his apartment after he didn't show up for practice Tuesday. A rifle "was recovered next to Hilinski and a suicide note was found," according to the Pullman Police Department.
"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."
Hilinski was the presumptive starting quarterback going into next season. He started Washington State's Holiday Bowl loss to Michigan State after Luke Falk was unable to play due to a wrist injury.
"The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinski is devastating to all. Tyler was a tremendous individual, great friend and teammate, and he will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends," interim athletic director John Johnson said. "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."
Hilinski appeared in eight games during his sophomore season, throwing for 1,176 yards and seven touchdowns. His most memorable outing came in the second week of the season when he led Washington State from a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Boise State 47-44 in triple overtime. Hilinski threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns coming off the bench, and was carried off the field after the victory.
His only start came in the bowl game against Michigan State, although he played extensively in a loss to Arizona.
Former Washington State linebackers coach Roy Manning, who recently left for a position at UCLA, tweeted, "Words can't describe what I'm feeling right now. My heart is beyond saddened. Please pray for the family and all of us affected!"
Washington State's players took to social media in reaction to Hilinski's death.
"Ty you were a great teammate, friend, brother anything we needed you to be. You brought smiles to the people around you. I am sorry I could not be there for you when you needed a smile for yourself. Love you man," defensive back Skyler Thomas wrote on Twitter.
Fellow quarterback John Bledsoe also wrote on Twitter, "God, let Tyler find peace. Everyone please pray for the Hilinski family tonight. Heaven received a very special person."
Hilinski is from Claremont, California, and went to high school at nearby Upland. He arrived on campus in 2015 and redshirted before appearing in four games in 2016.
Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press