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New Details Emerge on Death of Former Arkansas Star and NFL QB Ryan Mallett

Photo: Wesley Hitt

New details have been released in relation to the death of Arkansas Razorbacks star and NFL quarterback Ryan Mallett. Mallett was identified as the victim of an apparent drowning in the Gulf of Mexico, the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office announced in a statement shared on Monday (June 28).

“One of the individuals, an adult male, went under and lifeguards say he was not breathing when pulled out,” said the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in a statement obtained by ABC News. “Lifesaving measures were immediately undertaken but the man was pronounced deceased at the Destin Emergency Room.”

Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said numerous beachgoers ignored warnings of deadly conditions in the ocean along the Florida Panhandle, which led to nearly a dozen drownings in the past two weeks, the New York Post reports. Ford said several deaths could have been avoided had beachgoers complied with the warnings, which included cursing and harassment directed back at lifeguards and other first responders, though not specifically mentioning any pushback from Mallett prior to his death.

“These same heroes, who have risked it all to save others, have been cursed and given the finger, while trying to warn visitors of the life-threatening dangers,” Ford said via the New York Post. “We have used the tools provided by the county commission to fine violators $500 for entering the water on double red flags.”

Mallett's death was confirmed to KHTV in Little Rock by Skip Carr, the assistant principal at White Hall High School in Arkansas, where the former quarterback served as head football coach. The former Texas High School standout was a consensus five-star prospect, ranking as the No. 1 player from the state of Texas, No. 2 pro-style quarterback and No. 5 prospect for the 2007 national recruiting cycle, according to the 247Sports Composite.

Mallett spent his first collegiate season at the University of Michigan and appeared in 11 games as a true freshman in the absence of injured starter Chad Henne, but transferred after the conclusion of the 2007 season due to the Wolverines hiring of then-head coach Rich Rodriguez and a shift to a read option offensive scheme that typically centers around a dual-threat quarterback. The Batesville native transferred to Arkansas and excelled as a two-year starter after redshirting in 2008.

Mallett led the Razorbacks to an 8-5 record in 2009 and a 10-3 record in 2010, which included being ranked No. 12 overall during his final collegiate season and being named as a second-team All-SEC quarterback during his two seasons as a starter.

"We are shocked and saddened by the passing of Ryan Mallett. 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," the Arkansas football team wrote on its official Twitter account.

Mallett was selected by the New England Patriots at No. 74 overall in the third-round of the 2011 NFL Draft and spent his first three seasons as a backup to Tom Brady before being traded to the Houston Texans in August 2014 for a conditional pick and later being named as the starting quarterback under first-year head coach Bill O'Brien, who had worked as the Patriots' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during Mallett's rookie season in November 2014.

The former Arkansas standout went 1-1 in two starts before a torn pectoral muscle ended his season. Mallett competed for the Texans' starting quarterback job during the 2015 offseason but was beat out by veteran Brian Hoyer, who he eventually replaced in the fourth quarter of Houston's Week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mallett went 1-3 in four starts for the Texans in 2015 before being traded to the Baltimore Ravens and going 1-1 in two starts following injuries to starter Joe Flacco and backup Matt Schaub.

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