UNLV football player Ryan Keeler, former Rutgers student, dies at age 20

Keeler appeared in seven games for UNLV last season, recording eight tackles and a sack.

By6abc Digital Staff and Adam Rittenberg ESPN Senior Writer WPVI logo
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
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LAS VEGAS (WPVI) -- UNLV football player Ryan Keeler died Monday in Las Vegas, the school announced.

Keeler, a 20-year-old defensive lineman from Chicago, spent last season with UNLV after starting his college career at Rutgers. UNLV did not provide a cause of death.

Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said in a statement, "We are devastated to hear of Ryan's passing. 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."

"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," Rebels coach Barry Odom said in a statement. "Our condolences and prayers go out to Ryan's family as we grieve along with them over this tremendous loss."

Keeler appeared in seven games for UNLV last season, recording eight tackles and a sack. He earned academic All-Mountain West honors with a 3.8 GPA.

UNLV players including defensive lineman Adam Plant Jr. posted about Keeler on social media Monday. Keeler's high school alma mater, Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park, Illinois, also posted about his passing.

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