Dr. Saturday

Kent State will wear No. 54 on helmets to honor fallen teammate Jason Bitsko

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday
Kent State '54' helmets to honor deceased teammate

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In this undated photo provided by Kent State University, center Jason Bitsko is congratulated during an BCAA football game. Kent State says Bitsko has died and that police believe he passed away from an undetermined medical issue. He was found unresponsive in the bedroom of his off-campus apartment Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Kent State University)

A day after the tragic death of starting center Jason Bitsko, Kent State players have already come up with a way to honor their fallen teammate.

Head coach Paul Haynes said Thursday that Bitsko’s teammates will wear his No. 54 on the side of their helmets through the season.

“Jason Bitsko was not just a Golden Flash, he was a son, he was a brother, he was a mentor, he was a friend,” Haynes said.

After not showing up for practice Wednesday morning, Bitsko, a redshirt junior from Huber Heights, Ohio, was “found unresponsive in his bedroom” by his roommate around 9 a.m. Police believe the cause of death to be “an undetermined medical issue.” He was 21 years old.

"Kent State University and the entire Kent community mourns his passing," Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen said in a statement Wednesday. "We are heartbroken by the news of Jason's death. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, teammates and everyone whose lives he touched."

The program recently honored Bitsko with an award for “exemplifying hard work and dedication beyond the call of duty.”

Additionally, memorials have been popping up around campus to honor Bitsko.

Bitsko’s family wants to make sure that the loss of their son can have a positive impact on another member of the Golden Flashes. According to August Fagerstrom of Ohio.com, Bitsko’s father “wanted to make sure Jason’s scholarship went to a walk-on.”

Kent State opens its season at home against Ohio University on August 30.

For more Kent State news, visit KentStateReport.com.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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