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UNLV defensive lineman, age 20, found dead; authorities investigating

K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A 20-year-old University of Nevada, Las Vegas athlete unexpectedly died Monday, Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

"We are devastated to have lost a member of our Rebel family," first-year UNLV football head coach Barry Odom said in a statement on the UNLV Rebels' website announcing Ryan Keeler's passing.

"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," the statement also said.

Ryan Keeler, a defensive lineman for the UNLV Rebels, was found unresponsive in bed in his studio apartment, KTNV reported Tuesday. Authorities are investigating the 6'6", 275-pound Chicago native's death, according to ESPN.

Clark County's coroner said cause and manner of death is pending. Blood and toxicology tests from the medical examiner can take several weeks, KTNV also reported.

Las Vegas police officer Robert Wicks said investigation of the unexpected death was open, and that the call was initially handled as a medical call.

The UNLV Rebels announced Keeler's passing in a post on Monday mourning the loss of the student athlete. Keeler had just completed his redshirt freshman season before he died. Keeler graduated from Nazareth Academy's high school. He had transferred to UNLV from Rutgers University last season.

Keeler was a "highly recruited player" who garnered "dozens of scholarship offers out of high school," the statement also says.

In addition to being a gifted athlete, 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."

"We are devastated to hear of Ryan’s passing. . . .We send our love and prayers to Ryan’s family and friends during this difficult time," Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano told the Daily Voice of the former Scarlet Knight.

"From getting to know him as a recruit, to actually getting to coach him, what stood out most was his passion. . . .His passion for his teammates and his passion for the game of football," Schiano also told the outlet.

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