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20-Year-Old College Football Player Dies Suddenly


20-year-old Ryan Keeler, defensive lineman for The University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), passed away Monday in Las Vegas.

“The UNLV community is mourning the loss of Rebel football student-athlete Ryan Keeler. Our sincere condolences are with Ryan’s family, friends, loved ones, and teammates during this very difficult time,” UNLV tweeted.

“We are devastated to have lost a member of our Rebel family,” said UNLV football head coach Barry Odom.

“While I had the honor of knowing Ryan for only a couple of months, he already stood out to our coaching staff as an incredible person, student and teammate. Our condolences and prayers go out to Ryan’s family as we grieve along with them over this tremendous loss.”

From UNLV:

Keeler, 20, was a defensive lineman from Chicago, Illinois, who had just completed his redshirt freshman season. The graduate of Nazareth Academy transferred to UNLV from Rutgers University last season and went on to play in seven games, totaling eight tackles. A highly recruited player who garnered dozens of scholarship offers out of high school, Keeler recorded his first collegiate quarterback sack vs. Air Force on Oct. 15, 2022.

An Academic All-Mountain West honoree, Keeler held a 3.80 grade point average in pre-business.

“The UNLV family is in mourning today over the sudden loss of one of our own,” said UNLV Director of Athletics Erick Harper. “Our hearts go out to all of Ryan’s family and friends along with his Rebel teammates.”

“Words are hard to come by this evening as we grieve the sudden and tragic loss of UNLV student-athlete Ryan Keeler,” said UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield. “My sincere condolences are with Ryan’s family, friends, loved ones, and teammates during this very difficult time.”

There has been no cause of death announced. noted that Keeler was a former Rutgers football player before transferring to UNLV:

Ryan Keeler, a former Rutgers football player who transferred to UNLV last offseason, died on Monday in Las Vegas, the school announced. A cause of death was not included in the announcement and has not been reported.

A three-star prospect out of Chicago, Illinois, Keeler, 20, was a member of the Scarlet Knights’ 2021 recruiting class. The defensive lineman redshirted in 2021, his only season in Piscataway, then entered the transfer portal.

Rutgers announced in March 2021 that all students had to receive the COVID-19 shot before arriving on campus in the fall.

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From Rutgers:

Rutgers University will require the COVID-19 vaccine for students who are enrolled for the 2021 fall semester.

Assurances from the federal government that vaccines will be available for all Americans by the end of May and assessments by public health experts prompted university leaders to adjust the vaccine requirements for the fall semester.

“We are committed to health and safety for all members of our community, and adding COVID-19 vaccination to our student immunization requirements will help provide a safer and more robust college experience for our students,” said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway.

Students may request an exemption from vaccination for medical or religious reasons. Students enrolled in fully remote online degree programs and individuals participating in online-only continuing education programs will not be required to be vaccinated.



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