Ryan Keeler, UNLV Football Player, Dead at 20

Ryan Keeler, a defensive lineman for the UNLV football team, has died, the school announced. He was 20 years old. the cause of death was not announced, but UNLV announced that Keeler died in Las Vegas on Monday. 

"We are devastated to have lost a member of our Rebel family," first-year UNLV football head coach Barry Odom said in a statement. "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."    

Keeler was from Chicago, Illinois and just completed his redshirt freshman season. He played at Rutgers University before joining UNLV. Keeler played seven games for the Rebels last season and tallied eight tackles with one sack. According to 247Sports, Keeler, who played high school football at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park, Illinois, was a three-star prospect and ranked the 18th-best player out of Illinois in the class of 2021. He signed with Rutgers in December 2020 after receiving offers from Cincinnati, West Virginia, Virginia, Indiana, Ole Miss, Oregon State and others. 

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

Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano also reacted to the news of Keeler's death. "We are devastated to hear Ryan's passing," he said. "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. We send our love and prayers to Ryan's family and friends during this difficult time."

Fans also paid tribute to Keeler. One person wrote: "What a tragic loss of such a promising athlete! My thoughts and prayers go out to Ryan's parents and family as they endure this devastating heartache."

Another person added: "Way too young. Condolences to the team – hard to understand that loss. And deepest sympathies to Ryan's grieving family who must be devastated."