Kyle BonaguraESPN Staff Writer
In the days leading up to his suicide Tuesday, there were no obvious signs Tyler Hilinski, a quarterback at Washington State, was dealing with any serious personal issues, Cougars coach Mike Leach said.
“Everyone has some dark space that they work through, I’m sure, but no one really saw anything like that,” Leach said Saturday. “He didn’t have signs of depression. He didn’t have periods where he was moping around or anything like that. He was honestly a very steady guy. Kind of guy who would lift up others when they were down.”
Hilinski, 21, had even text messaged teammates to set up a throwing session for Tuesday afternoon, according to Leach.
“Hadn’t really had any issues,” Leach said. “Some ups and downs as a college student, but nothing that would stand out that you would recognize as a problem.”
Police sent officers to Hilinski’s apartment Tuesday afternoon, Pullman police chief Gary Jenkins said, at the request of a member of the WSU coaching staff. That staff member told police Hilinski had not shown up for a team workout and there was concern because it was out of character for him not to show up or call to say why he wouldn’t be there.
He was found dead at his apartment with a rifle and a handwritten suicide note beside him, police said. The official cause of death, according to the Whitman County Coroner’s Office, was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Hilinski was 21.
Hilinski’s funeral will be held next weekend in Southern California, and WSU will make transportation available for his former teammates.
Leach said he had last spoken with Hilinski a couple days after the team’s bowl game, and it was a typical coach-player discussion. They talked about moving forward in the offseason and building for next year, when Hilinski was expected to take over as the team’s starting quarterback.
Hilinski had recently taken a trip with his family to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, before returning to Pullman to begin the spring semester.