Former NFL and University of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett has died in an apparent drowning incident along Florida’s Gulf Coast. He was 35 years old.
Arkansas’ Deltaplex News reported on Tuesday that Mallett was transported after the incident from a beach in Destin, Florida to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Officials with the White Hall School District where Mallett worked confirmed his death. Mallett was working as the head football coach at White Hall High School.
“It is with great sadness that we share the loss of Coach Ryan Mallett,” the statement reads. “Coach Mallett was a beloved coach and educator. We ask that you remember his family, team, students, fellow coaches, and the White Hall School District staff in your prayers.”
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the nature of Mallett’s death in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“A tourist died in an apparent drowning offshore of Gulf Shore Drive in Destin,” the statement reads. “A group of individuals were reportedly struggling offshore when a man went under. He was not breathing when lifeguards found and pulled him out. Tragically lifesaving measures weren’t successful.”
OCSO later confirmed that the man identified as “a tourist” was Mallett after his next of kin was notified. News of Mallett’s death arrives amid 11 reported deaths attributed to rip currents along the Gulf Coast in recent weeks.
Mallett played in college as a freshman at Michigan before transferring to Arkansas, where he played two seasons. He was selected in the third round of the 2011 draft by the New England Patriots. He played seven seasons in the NFL with the Patriots, Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens.
A native of Batesville, Arkansas, Mallett was one of the best high school quarterbacks to ever play in his home state. He committed to play for Michigan and made 11 appearances as a freshman backup to Chad Henne. He transferred to Arkansas after the retirement of Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and started as a sophomore and junior with the Razorbacks. He declared for the draft after his junior season to join the NFL.
Mallett played sparingly as a backup to Tom Brady, and the Patriots traded him to the Texans in 2014. He made nine appearances including six starts for the Texas before they released him midseason in 2015. He then signed with the Ravens, where he made eight appearances including two starts through the 2017 season.
He joined White Hall as its football coach in 2022.
Football world reacts to Mallett’s death
Friends, teammates, opponents and organizations from Mallett’s football career reacted to his death.