Former NFL Quarterback, Ryan Mallett, Dies in Apparent Drowning – He Was Just 35 Years Old

On June 27, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department released a news statement that revealed an ‘apparent drowning that claimed the life of a tourist in the Gulf of Mexico.’ They didn’t have confirmation of next of kin at the time, but they later identified the ‘tourist’ as former NFL quarterback Ryan Mallett

According to the news release, Mallett was with a ‘group of people in the water near the second sandbar’ when they started to struggle to make their way back to shore. Mallett reportedly went under and lifeguards say he wasn’t breathing by the time they got to him. He died at the Destin Emergency Room. 

Ryan Mallett was just 35 years old at the time of his death. The news comes just 16 months after he was hired to be the next head coach of the White Hall high school football team in February 2022. It also comes just two months after the high school mourned the death of senior running back, Benjamin Redix.

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“It is with great sadness that we share the loss of Coach Ryan Mallett. 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 White Hall, AR School District wrote on Facebook.

Ryan Mallett was a highly-rated quarterback out of high school who was named Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior in 2006. He went on to play college football for Michigan (freshman year) and Arkansas (RS sophomore and RS junior year), where he started to draw the attention of several NFL teams. 

Originally projected as a first-round draft pick, Mallett fell to the third round and was selected by the New England Patriots with the No. 71 overall pick in 2011. He spent seven years in the NFL, but only played in 21 games and had just 8 starts in his career – he was 3-5-0 with 1,835 yards and nine touchdowns. 

Since moving on from the NFL, Mallett has transitioned into coaching and received his first gig as an assistant coach at Mountain Home High School in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Two years later, he became the head coach at White Hall High School – the team went 4-6 in his first year as head coach.

Tributes Continue to Roll in for Ryan Mallett

Ever since news of his death went viral, a flurry of tributes has been shared on social media by former teammates and with news outlets across the state of Arkansas, where he left a lasting impact on the football community. From high school superstar to full-time high school head coach, he was made in AR. 

One former teammate, J.J. Watt, took to Twitter to share his respects. “Horrible news to read about Ryan Mallett. Gone way too soon. Rest in Peace brother,” he wrote. Watt and Mallett were teammates for nearly two seasons in 2014 and 2015, when Mallett was competing for a starting job, but ultimately lost.

The New England Patriots also shared their condolences on Twitter. “The New England Patriots are deeply saddened to learn of the sudden and unexpected passing of former quarterback Ryan Mallett. Our thoughts are with the Mallett family, his former teammates and all who are mourning his loss,” they wrote. 

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Several former Patriots shared tributes of the their own for Ryan Mallett – including Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, and Brandon Bolden. Head coach Bill Belichick wrote, “I am extremely saddened by Ryan’s tragic passing. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the many people whose lives he touched.”

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