The redshirt freshman from Little Rock Catholic High School died around mid-day Sunday in his dorm room. Among those speaking at the memorial service was tight end Austin Tate, calling Uekman his "best friend."
Uekman's parents – Danny and Michelle – attended the service along with the entire football team and student-athletes from all UA squads.
Petrino said the No. 3 Razorbacks will go to battle against No. 1 LSU in Baton Rouge on Friday in a nationally televised game with the urging of the Uekman family.
"The outside world will think we are taking the field without No. 88," Petrino said. "They will be so wrong. He'll be there in the mind of every player on our team and every one of our fans in the stands. He will be part of us forever."
Tate told a story of going through a haunted house a few weeks ago with Uekman, closing with a reference to preparations for the big game this week.
With close friends Luke Charpentier, Brian Buehner and Zach Hocker by his side, Tate said Uekman would not want his teammates spending time away from the meeting room and practice to mourn him this week. He would want them "to be getting ready for LSU. He loved being a part of this team ... and he will always be a part of us."
Chancellor David Gearhart thanked Uekman's parents for allowing the campus to conduct the vigil, then promised that their son would receive an honorary degree and have his name "etched" in the senior sidewalk.
"Our loss is as profound as it is tragic," Gearhart told the Uekmans. "The entire UofA campus and our state is holding you close and shares your burden."
Gearhart told Petrino and the team, "Garrett loved being a UofA student and being a part of the Razorback team. Football is only a game unless you are living it in such a passionate way like Garrett. We know that was his passion and his dream come true."
Tate shared a Halloween night walk through the haunted house near campus. He said a group of players along with Uekman had a memorable evening.
"Garrett followed me into the house and was right behind me all the way through it," he said. "He had hold of my shirt. He held onto it all the way. By the time we were at the end and he let go, my shirt was three times its normal size.
"When we got outside, there was a body and a wreck. We were going past it and someone jumped out at us with a chain saw. Garrett jumped high into the air, fell on his butt and then ran. He disappeared. That's the memory I will always have of him."
Petrino said his memory will include the way he worked both on the football field and in the class room.
"I am proud to have known Garrett," Petrino said. "He embodied everything our team and state would want. He was a tireless student. He had many opportunities when he came out of high school. He chose to follow his dream to play football for the Razorbacks.
"I hold some comfort in knowing his last game was in War Memorial Stadium, a place that meant so much to him. I want this to be known, he came to be a student-athlete.
"It is human nature to ask why in a situation like this. I would rather not focus on what we don't know, but what we do know: Garrett had a dream to succeed in both the class room and on the field and he was doing that."
Uekman's death was ruled of natural causes by the Washington County coroner. An autopsy revealed that the football player had an enlarged heart. No alcohol or drugs were found in his system.
Students mourn the loss of football player Garrett Uekman at a candlelight vigil Monday night.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette photo William Moore