Mourning Uekman's Loss

Garrett Uekman

Arkansas will hold a candelight vigil Monday night at 8 p.m. inside Bud Walton Arena to honor the memory of redshirt freshman tight end Garrett Uekman, who died Sunday in his dorm room.

Arkansas has announced it will hold a special candlelight vigil Monday night at 8 p.m. inside of Bud Walton Arena as a way to honor late tight end Garrett Uekman.

Uekman was found unresponsive and unconscious Sunday morning at around 11:15 a.m. and was pronounced dead at Washington Regional Hospital in Fayetteville 55 minutes later.

A visibly shaken Razorback coach Bobby Petrino and athletics director Jeff Long met with the media on Sunday night.

"This is an extremely sad day for the University of Arkansas," Long said. "We lost a member of our family. A young man who is an outstanding student and a much-loved member of our football team. Garrett Uekman passed away earlier today. As you would expect, his loss is painful and incomprehensible to all of us. ... The University of Arkansas community is very tight-knit, and that's especially true of Razorback athletes and our football team. As you can imagine, we're all in a state of shock."

Long noted the Razorbacks – who had this tragedy on the same day they learned they had moved to third in the BCS, AP, USA Today and Harris polls - were told of his passing in a team meeting at 1:30 p.m. and reacted with shock and other emotions.

"As you would expect, this is a brother of theirs," Long said. "And they handled it like you'd expect. There was certainly shock and dismay and tears and disbelief and all of those human emotions that you would expect if you lose a loved one."

The AD noted that Arkansas – who is unaware of any pre-existing conditions that might have caused this tragedy - has counseling in place for the athletes.

"Absolutely," Long said. "We've already begun and engaged in that this afternoon and that will continue in the next days and weeks ahead."

That is especially for Uekman's roommates, of which kicker Zach Hocker acknowledged via twitter that he is one.

"He was very close with a number of people on our team and close with virtually all of them," Long said. "But some he was very close. We're staying very close to them and working very closely with them. That began today at 1:30 and will continue."

Long said Friday's game with No. 1 LSU is still slated to be played.

"If LSU has reached out, I've been so involved with what we're handling here that I'm not aware of it," Long said. "Certainly the feelings of Garrett's family is that football and the University of Arkansas and the Razorbacks were very important to him... and that he would want us to continue to compete."

Petrino read a prepared statement before leaving to be with his team. Long noted he the head coach would take questions at a later time.

"Garrett was a special member of our family," Petrino said. "The team and I were shocked today when we learn of his tragic passing. The entire football program is grieving his lost.

"Last night he was very proud of the win in Little Rock, which came on the same field that he played his high school football on," Petrino added. "He truly loved being a Razorback and loved and was loved by his teammates.

"I am proud of the way he represented our program," Petrino continued. "He did everything right and had one of our highest gpa's on the football team. There was nothing Garrett loved more than competing.

"I know it was Garrett's dream was being at Arkansas and being a member of this football team," Petrino said. "Our team will honor and respect his memory as we build this program. Our team thoughts are with Garrett and my prayers are with him and his family."

It is expected that the Razorbacks will honor Uekman in some fashion during Friday's game with No. 1 LSU.

"That's a good question," Long said. "Again, this is happening so quickly that's certainly something we're going to consider and work with our captains and our student-athletes to prepare something. You can expect that we'll have an appropriate way to honor Garrett."

The team will be allowed to travel to Little Rock for an as yet unscheduled funeral service according to Long.

Yes, when there's a situation like this we have a pretty wide latitidue for what we can do to assist the team to be with the family," Long said.

Long said that Arkansas would do the best it could to bring a positive out of this tragedy.

"I think that when you face tragedy in your life — and we all do and we all have and we all will — we're a part of education here and we want to help our young people learn and grown from this and make sure that Garrett's membership as a part of our team is something that they can take within and use to help better them their life," Long said. We're doing that number of ways."

Long said he hoped the vigil would be a way of helping the entire Arkansas community.

"We hope that we can communicate those things individually tomorrow night," Long said. "We think that's an important part of campus healing.. Care was engaged on campus as well. There are a number of people from Little Rock Catholic High School here that knew him.

"It's important for us not to just think this is a Razorback athletic student-athlete," Long added. " It's for our entire community. We're reaching out and trying to help them. Everybody mourns and grieves differently. We want to be able to provide outlets for that for all of our students and student-athletes."

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