Offensive lineman and senior Kyle Smith of the Portland State Vikings football team died Wednesday night in his apartment, according to Goviks.com.
Smith’s death is the second Vikings loss this year, on the heels of a record-setting 2015 season under the lead of Head Coach Bruce Barnum. On January 17, freshman linebacker AJ Schlatter passed away unexpectedly due to complications in tonsil surgery.
The university did not release details of Smith’s death at the time of publication.
The Vikings issued a press release on the Goviks website today in response to the news of Smith’s passing:
Kyle is a native of Elmira, OR. He was a first-team All-State performer as an offensive and defensive lineman at Elmira High School. After taking a redshirt season at Portland State in 2012, Kyle started 36 straight games for Portland State, playing the vital position of left tackle. He was a second team All-Big Sky Conference selection in 2015.
“I feel we have the most united, close-knit football team in America, and we just lost a major piece of that team in Kyle. Right now we have two concerns, Kyle’s family and our football players,” said Viking Head Coach Bruce Barnum. “The program is being tested but we will come out of this on top.”
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Kyle Smith,” said Director of Athletics Mark Rountree. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. I would ask the Viking family to support our student-athletes and coaches with love and caring during this difficult time. We must all must show resolve to cope with this tragedy as best we can.”
Tragically, Kyle is the second Viking football player to pass away this off-season. PSU lost linebacker AJ Schlatter on Jan. 17 due to complications following surgery.
The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the Portland State program are with the Smith family. Funeral arrangements are pending.
The Vikings canceled today’s practice, according to Associate Director of Media and Communications Mike Lund. The coaching staff, university administration and staff councilors met with Smith’s teammates to discuss Smith’s death and its impact.
“Right now, the university’s done a great job of that, kind of taking care of the guys here, their emotional needs,” Lund said.
Lund said that the coaching staff gave the team the option to determine how to move forward, and that the players met separately to determine they would resume practice tomorrow.
“The team met on their own and discussed it, and determined that they wanted to get out there tomorrow,” Lund said. “They left it up to the players and that’s what the players wanted.”
Continuing coverage to be available at psuvanguard.com