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Former UCF and Wisconsin tight end Jake Hescock dies at age 25 after suffering cardiac arrest

By Sarah May
December 15, 2022

Tragic news emerged from the world of sports over the weekend as it was announced that former University of Central Florida (UCF) and University of Wisconsin football tight end Jake Hescock after suffering cardiac arrest, as the Orlando Sentinel reported.

According to reports, Hescock, 25, collapsed while jogging in Boston earlier in the week and was transported to an area hospital following initiation of CPR by a passerby.

Family announces death

Members of Hescock's family took to social media to provide updates on the situation, noting that as a result of the cardiac arrest suffered while jogging, the former football standout also experienced severe trauma to the brain from which he could not recover.

Lisa Walz Mlynarczyk, a cousin of Hescock's said in a Facebook post, “It is with a heavy heart that I have to say my cousin Jake has passed on.”

“May he rest in peace and forever shine his bright soul upon us,” she added.

Collegiate career remembered

As the Sentinel noted, Hescock began his collegiate gridiron career at the University of Wisconsin in 2016 and was a member of the UCF squad between 2017 and 2021, making appearances in every scheduled game of his final two seasons.

Hailing from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Hescock attended high school in Connecticut and then headed to Wisconsin to take the field for the badgers.

Following his freshman year in Madison, Hescock transferred to UCF, where NCAA rules required him to sit out for the subsequent season.

Tributes pour in

Given his varied on-field experience, it came as no surprise that tributes from former teammates and coaches came pouring in as the news of Hescock's death began to break.

As the New York Post noted, current head coach at UCF, Gus Malzahn, took to Twitter to express his sadness over the unfortunate developments, writing, “We're heartbroken to hear of Jake's passing. He was an incredible person, who embodied what it means to be a UCF Knight.”

“Everyone who knew Jake loved him and he was a blessing to coach. He will be greatly missed, Kristi and I's prayers are with his whole family,” added Malzahn, referencing his wife.

UCF players Sam Jackson and Matt Lee also paid tribute to Hescock on social media, commenting, “I'm going to miss you big guy” and “Going to miss you Jake,” respectively, according to the Sentinel.

Former UCF quarterback Mikey Keene added his sentiments online, saying, “Jake Hescock was one of the most authentic guys I've ever been around. He was an incredible person and an even better friend. He made everyone around him a better person.”

Latest in spate of football deaths

Hescock's unexpected death was just the latest to rock the world of collegiate football, with Mississippi State offensive lineman Sam Westmoreland having passed away suddenly in October at age 18, as Sports Illustrated reported at the time.

Head Coach Mike Leach – who coincidentally died this week of a heart attack – issued a statement following the surprise death saying, “Sam was a beloved son, brother and teammate, and a tremendous young man with a limitless future. He will always be remembered and deeply missed by everyone who knew and loved him.”

“The entire MSU family mourns as our thoughts and prayers go out to the Westmoreland family. Our highest priority is the support of the Westmoreland family and our student-athletes during this troubling time,” the statement added.

Back in September, another college football player, Clark Yarbrough of Ouachita Baptist University, suffered a sudden collapse and died shortly thereafter at the tragically young age of 21.

A statement released by the university lauded Yarbrough as “an exemplary student – academically, athletically, and spiritually,” noting that he “held strongly to his Christian faith.”