Former NFL and Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett was pronounced dead at a hospital after an apparent drowning off the coast of Florida on Tuesday. Mallett was 35.
“The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an apparent drowning that claimed the life of a tourist inthe Gulf of Mexico this afternoon. First responders were called to the beach behind 775 Gulf Shore Drive in Destin around 2:12 p.m. A group of people in the water near the second sandbar had reportedly been struggling to make their way back to shore,” the Okaloosa County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports. “One of the individuals, an adult male, went under and lifeguards say he was not breathing when pulled out. Lifesaving measures were immediately undertaken but the man was pronounced deceased at the Destin Emergency Room. We do not have confirmation at this time of next of kin notification.”
Mallett recently had joined the White Hall (Arkansas) High School coaching staff last year as head football coach.
“It is with great sadness that we share the loss of Coach Ryan Mallett. Coach Mallett was a beloved coach and educator,” the White Hall School District said in a statement. “We ask that you remember his family, team, students, fellow coaches, and the White Hall School District staff in your prayers.”
The Arkansas Razorbacks football program was “shocked and saddened” by Mallett’s death, writing a statement that he “was a Razorback legend with larger-than-life talent and a personality to match. He led our program to some of our best moments in recent memory. He will be missed by everyone who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his mother Debbie and his extended family.”
Mallett played five seasons in the NFL for the New England Patriots, Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens. He became a household college football name after two stellar seasons at Arkansas.
“The New England Patriots are deeply saddened to learn of the sudden and unexpected passing of former quarterback Ryan Mallett,” the Patriots said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the Mallett family, his former teammates and all who are mourning his loss.”
The Ravens, whom Mallett played six games for, said that Mallett “had an infectious personality, and throughout his time as a Raven, Ryan’s charisma and joy for being around the team were consistently on display.”
The NFL also released a statement, saying, “The NFL family is deeply saddened by the passing of Ryan Mallett. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
Ryan Mallett spent six seasons in the NFL.
Mallett transferred to the Razorbacks from the University of Michigan in 2008. After sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, he immediately took the SEC by storm at a time when Tim Tebow ruled the conference. He led the conference in passing yards and touchdowns in both 2009 and 2010, posting consecutive seasons with at least 3600 yards and 30 touchdowns. Mallett earned All-SEC second-team honors both times, falling behind Tebow in 2009 and Cam Newton in 2010, two Heisman-award winning quarterbacks. He finished seventh in Heisman voting in 2010.
With one year of eligibility remaining, Mallett decided to enter the 2011 NFL draft. As the draft neared, he was trending toward becoming a first-round pick. However, Mallett fell to the third round, drafted by the Patriots to serve as Tom Brady’s backup. Mallett spent two seasons backing up Brady before being traded to the Texans.
He started two games in his first year with Houston in 2014. Mallett threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns in his first game, but tore his pectoral muscle during his start the next week. He began the next season as the Texans back-up before starting in Week 2 and 3, throwing for 472 yards and 2 touchdowns. Mallett was benched in Week 4 during a blowout loss and released four weeks later after missing the team’s charter flight for a game in Miami.
In December 2015, the Ravens signed Mallett after quarterback Joe Flacco suffered a season-ending injury. He threw for a career-high in yards in each of his two starts with the Ravens. He served as Flacco’s backup in the next two seasons, appearing in his final NFL game in October 2017.
“Horrible news to read about Ryan Mallett. Gone way too soon. Rest in Peace brother,” former Texans defensive end J.J. Watt wrote on Twitter.