Star quarterback Luke Falk has been wearing No. 4 for his entire career at Washington State, but for the Senior Bowl this week, Falk will emotionally be donning a new number in honor of fallen teammate Tyler Hilinski.
Hilinski was found dead in his apartment last Tuesday in what has been officially ruled a suicide. Falk revealed that he will be wearing Hilinski’s No. 3 through all of the Senior Bowl’s activities in hopes that it can raise some awareness on mental health issues.
“We really want Tyler to be remembered and this to be talked about,” Falk said. “I mean, when suicide is the leading cause of death of men from 18 to 45 years old, it should be talked about. And we should do something about it. I feel like at times we feel like we can’t express our emotions because we’re in a masculine sport. And him being a quarterback, people look up to you as a leader, so he felt like he really probably couldn’t talk to anybody. You know, we gotta change some of that stuff. We gotta have resources and not have any more stigma on people going through that.
“I just felt like [the jersey switch] is what I needed to do. He needs to be remembered. He was an amazing person and an amazing soul. This guy was one of the most outgoing, bubbly … just a guy you want to be around. And people need to know it.”
Hilinski, a former three-star recruit, was the primary backup to Falk this season at Washington State. Hilinski played in eight games total this season, throwing for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns. He was in the running to start next season as Falk leaves for the NFL.
We send our best wishes to Hilinski’s family, friends, and teammates as they continue to deal with this tragedy.