Ryan Keeler, UNLV Rebels defensive lineman, dies at age 20

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UNLV defensive lineman Ryan Keeler died on Monday, the university said in a statement. He was 20.

As a redshirt freshman last season, Keeler played in seven games. The Chicago native made his first start in October in a game against Air Force where he recorded seven tackles and a sack.

“We are devastated to have lost a member of our Rebel family,” UNLV football head coach Barry Odom, who was hired in December, 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.”

“My heart hurts with the loss of Ryan Keeler,” former UNLV defensive line coach Bojay Filimoeatu said on Twitter. “You were a great young man and one of the hardest workers I have coached. I will forever cherish the time we had together my man. My prayers are with your beautiful family and teammates. Ofa Lahi Atu @ryankeeler71 #FlyHigh47”

“Long Live Ryan Keeler gone way too soon I’m lost for words right now love you forever brother,” fellow defensive lineman Adam Plant Jr. wrote on Twitter with a black heart and dove emoji.

Keeler transferred to UNLV from Rutgers in the 2022 offseason. He played high school football at Nazareth Academy (Illinois). Both programs paid tribute to their former player on social media.

“We love you, Ryan,” Rutgers football said on Twitter.

“There are no words. Our hearts are heavy. God bless the Keeler family. We love you Ryan,” the high school’s football team posted.

Keeler was majoring in pre-business and was an Academic All-Mountain West honoree with a 3.80 GPA.

No cause of death has been announced.

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