Bryce Beekman, a redshirt senior defensive back on Washington State’s football team, died Tuesday night in Pullman, Pullman Police Commander Jake Opgenorth confirmed to The Spokesman-Review.
Details of the death, including the cause, were not immediately available to The Spokesman-Review and Opgenorth said the Whitman County Coroner’s Office would release more information soon. The coroner’s office didn’t immediately respond to a phone call from The Spokesman-Review Wednesday morning.
Beekman was 22 years old.
The safety from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, started in 13 games for the Cougars last season after transferring from Arizona Western College in Yuma, and was primed to return as one of the team’s top defensive playmakers this fall under new head coach Nick Rolovich.
Spring workouts in Pullman, originally scheduled to begin Friday, were postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak and athletic department officials planned to reevaluate the situation on April 2. WSU students were encouraged to stay at their permanent residence after spring break and Cougars coach Nick Rolovich told reporters Tuesday on a conference call the majority of his team had not returned to campus.
Beekman recently traveled home to Louisiana for spring break, posting a photo on March 14 from his younger brother’s state championship basketball game. Reece Beekman, a high school senior at Scotlandville Magnet High – the school Bryce also attended – won Outstanding Player honors in the Division I title game. Bryce attended and wore a white T-shirt, printed with a photo of the brothers and the words “Brothers Keeper.”
WSU players offered their condolences on social media late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning before news about Beekman’s death was confirmed.
“25x26 forever,” fellow defensive back Skyler Thomas posted, referencing Thomas’ No. 25 and Beekman’s No. 26.
“One of the purest souls,” wrote wide receiver Easop Winston Jr.
“Fly high. Forever my dawg,” tweeted wide receiver Renard Bell.
“RIP boy,” former WSU safety Jalen Thompson wrote.
“Cherish your loved ones. Every second matters,” shared offensive lineman Liam Ryan.
Beekman, who transferred to WSU after playing two seasons at Arizona Western, immediately found a role in the Cougars’ defensive secondary after joining the team in the spring of 2018.
Last August, Beekman spoke to reporters about the growth he’d made in since enrolling at WSU in January and participating in spring camp.
“I’ve grown so much, it’s amazing how far I got from the spring til now,” Beekman said. “Because I feel comfortable in the defense, I can make certain calls with it. I’d say coming in the spring was the biggest thing, the biggest blessing for me.”
With his willowy length and physicality, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Beekman emerged as a projected starting safety for the Cougars during spring practice, alongside Thompson, then claimed the free safety spot during fall camp and started in all 13 games for WSU last season.
Beekman was the team’s fifth-leading tackler, with 60 total takedowns, and he recorded 2½ tackles-for-loss. He also notched one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Beekman’s best stretch came early in the season when the redshirt junior recorded 10 tackles in consecutive games, against Houston and UCLA. He was a difference-maker in the Houston game, forcing a fumble in the fourth quarter that would effectively seal a 31-24 win in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium.
As a redshirt senior, Beekman would’ve been one of two returning starters in WSU’s secondary, along with Thomas, who played at both the safety and nickel positions in 2019.
A native of Milwaukee, Beekman wore the No. 26 at WSU as a tribute to former Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor. Beekman’s younger brother, Reece, is a four-star point guard at Scotlandville and rated as the No. 1 overall prospect in the state of Louisiana. Reece is signed to play for ex-WSU coach Tony Bennett at Virginia next season.
Members of WSU’s football program will now mourn Beekman’s death only 26 months after another player, Tyler Hilinski, died by suicide in an apartment near the Pullman campus.
Copyright 2020 Tribune Content Agency.
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