Las Vegas authorities investigating UNLV player death

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
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LAS VEGAS – Authorities in Las Vegas are investigating the death of a 20-year-old UNLV player from Chicago who was found unresponsive in bed in a studio apartment, officials said.

The Clark County coroner said a cause and manner of Rebels defensive lineman Ryan Keeler‘s death was pending following his death. Medical examiner blood toxicology test results can take several weeks.

Las Vegas police Officer Robert Wicks said an investigation of Keeler’s unexpected death remained open pending coroner and detective findings. Wicks said the call was initially handled as a medical call.

UNLV head coach Barry Odom announced Keeler’s death, saying that since the 6-foot-6, 275-pound defensive lineman arrived by transfer from Rutgers University, he stood out to coaches as “an incredible person, student and teammate.”

Keeler played in seven games as a redshirt freshman last season, and he made the academic All-Mountain West team with a 3.8 grade-point average, Odom said.

UNLV was waiting for more information about Keeler’s death, Rebels football spokesman Mark Wallington said. A memorial service was not immediately scheduled.

UNLV freshman Ryan Keeler dies

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS — UNLV defensive lineman Ryan Keeler died at 20, the university announced.

No cause of death was given.

“We are devastated to have lost a member of our Rebel family,” UNLV coach Barry Odom 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.”

Keeler, who is from Chicago, transferred to UNLV from Rutgers last year. He played in seven games as a redshirt freshman this past season, and he made eight tackles and a sack.

Keeler, who made the academic All-Mountain West team, had a 3.80 GPA.

“Words are hard to come by this evening as we grieve the sudden and tragic loss of UNLV student-athlete Ryan Keeler,” UNLV 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.”

Report: UNLV to hire Bobby Petrino to run offense

bobby petrino
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LAS VEGAS — Bobby Petrino, known for his high-powered offenses and messy departures, will be UNLV’s new offensive coordinator, a person with knowledge of the impending hire said Thursday.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the hire had not officially been made.

Petrino, who spent the past three seasons at FCS-level Missouri State, will be part of new UNLV coach Barry Odom‘s staff. Odom was hired Dec. 6 to replace Marcus Arroyo, who was fired after the Rebels went 5-7 this season.

Petrino is 175-119 over 14 seasons as an FBS head coach, taking Louisville to eight bowl appearances over two stints and Arkansas to three bowls. Under Petrino, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in 2016.

With all his success, Petrino also had his shares of controversies.

He signed a 10-year contract before the 2006 season with Louisville but left a year later for the Atlanta Falcons. After a 3-10 start in 2007, he left for Arkansas.

Petrino twice won at least 10 games there with two New Year’s Six bowl appearances but he was fired in 2012. He lied about a motorcycle accident involving a female staffer and had failed to disclose when she was hired that the two were in an extramarital relationship.

After coaching Western Kentucky in 2013, Petrino returned to Louisville for five seasons. The Cardinals won at least eight games in each of the first four years but Petrino was fired after going 2-8 in 2018.