Razorback football player 19-year-old Garrett Uekman was found dead in his dorm room in Fayetteville Sunday morning. A redshirt freshman tight end, Uekman graduated from Catholic High School in Little Rock. Uekman was regarded as one of the top prospects in the state.
Uekman's death is casting a shadow over what's shaping up to be the most important week for Arkansas football, the day after defeating Mississippi State at War Memorial Stadium. Uekman's high school coach at Little Rock Catholic, David Estes, says it's a sad day not just for the Arkansas Razorbacks football program, but the entire state. "Garrett was a parent's dream. The kind of kid any parent would dream to have, and a coach's dream, with not only his ability, but his passion for the game, and the way he treated other people and his teammates."
Estes says those who knew Uekman are at a loss for words. They'll are all devastated. Estes says Garrett had a passion and joy for life, was a good student and a joy, honor and privilege to be around. "He was pretty well rounded and worked hard in all parts of his life and enjoyed it, given his ability to do it. He was rooted in a great family. I can't say enough about how his family raised him."
Estes says it was hard not to love Garrett. He didn't have an ego. He was giving, generous and put his teammates before himself. "It wasn't really about Garrett when he played, it was about being around it, playing and loving football."
Playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks was a dream come true for Garrett. "He loved Catholic High School and he loved the Razorbacks. I'm so proud of him. Yesterday seeing him on the field, I was grinning from ear to ear. It's just tough to hear Garrett is gone."
Estes describes Garrett as a tremendous person and role model. "He's an example of what our state wants as a Hog, as a Catholic High Rocket, or as a person and representative of our state. He was a great person."The university released a statement saying there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding Uekman's death. He was last seen playing video games by a roommate at around 10 am. Another roommate found him unconscious about an hour later. According to emergency responders, Uekman was in cardiac arrest when they arrived, and pronounced dead just after noon Sunday.
His body is being transported to the Arkansas State Crime lab for an autopsy.
Monday morning Coach Estes will meet with his team. Many of his seniors where sophomores when Garrett played on the team. Grief counselors will be on hand if needed. Then Monday afternoon at the Little Rock Catholic High School Chapel, there will be a Rosary service open to the public at 3:15pm.
Uekman also played basketball and was considered one of the top players in the state. He was also recruited by Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Louisville, Nebraska, and Ole Miss. He was enrolled in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.