News reports from south Mississippi were confirmed Friday evening by Mississippi State officials, that freshman defensive end Keith Joseph Jr., and his father, former Bulldog player Keith Joseph Sr., died in an automobile accident earlier in the day.
The single-vehicle accident occurred as father and son were driving to a Pascagoula High School game.
“We are deeply saddened and heartbroken by the tragic loss of Keith Jr. and his father,” Coach Dan Mullen said in a statement provided by Mississippi State.
“Keith had such a promising future as a Bulldog following in the legacy started by Keith Sr. who played for our program 25 years go. Keith was a great student, a hard worker, and a great teammate to us all. With heavy hearts our thoughts and prayers go out to the Joseph family and our entire Mississippi State community and all the lives these Bulldogs touched.”
Joseph was a redshirting 2015 freshman and did not make the travel roster for Mississippi State’s victory at Missouri on Thursday evening.
Joseph, who turned 18 in July, was a consensus top-twenty prospect in Mississippi as part of Mullen’s 2015 signing class. Playing at defensive end or outside linebacker at Pascagoula High School, he totaled 137 tackles in his junior and senior varsity campaigns. That included a dozen sacks. Joseph was selected for and played in the 2014 Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game.
The senior Joseph played outside linebacker from 1989-92, for both Coach Rockey Felker and Coach Jackie Sherrill. He participated in both the 1991 Liberty Bowl and the 1993 Peach Bowl.
“Words can’t express the sorrow we feel by having lost not one, but two members of the Bulldog family,” athletic director Scott Stricklin said. “I was a classmate of Keith Sr.’s and took pride in having Keith Jr. follow in his dad’s footsteps at MSU.”
The loss of a teammate is hitting the Bulldogs hard, several of whom have expressed grief on social media through the evening. For Mullen the pain of losing a young player is magnified by timing. This tragedy falls too near the anniversary of the 2010 passing of defensive lineman Nick Bell, from cancer.
#20 (CFP) Mississippi State hosts #4 Alabama next Saturday. Game time will be announced Sunday following Alabama’s clash with #2 Louisiana State in Tuscaloosa.
Funeral arrangements are pending. Mullen’s next scheduled meeting with media is the Monday press conference at 1:00.