For the second time in three years, a Washington State quarterback will be wearing No. 3 at the Reese’s Senior Bowl as a tribute to former teammate Tyler Hilinski, who donned the number for the Cougars before killing himself in January 2018.
According to Trevor Sikkema of Pewter Report, Senior Bowl Executive Director told reporters Anthony Gordon would be wearing No. 3 as an homage to his friend and teammate of two years at Washington State.
Former WSU quarterback Luke Falk had the idea two years ago in Mobile, Alabama, choosing to wear the No. 3 during Senior Bowl practices, which took place just weeks after Hilinski took his own life in an off-campus apartment in Pullman.
Falk and WSU offensive lineman Cole Madison also wore helmet stickers with Hilinski’s number and passed them out to Senior Bowl teammates. Because the Senior Bowl game itself coincided with Hilinski’s funeral in Southern California, Falk withdrew from the game so he could attend the service at Damien High School with other WSU teammates.
Thursday night, Gordon told The Spokesman-Review via text message he’s “honored and privileged to wear the No. 3 at the Senior Bowl” and that “it means a lot to me to carry on Tyler’s legacy, alongside emphasizing the importance of mental health through Hilinski’s Hope.”
Gordon added: “The Hilinskis are an unbelievable family that has a special place in my heart. I thank them for allowing me to carry on Tyler’s legacy and wear his No. 3, as he was the quarterback that would have represented Washington State at the 2020 Senior Bowl.”
Gordon, Falk and Hilinski spent two years working together and learning from one another while playing for Mike Leach. Prior to the 2019 season, just before Gordon won the starting job at WSU, his father told The Spokesman-Review Hilinski was at least as instrumental to his son’s development as Falk and Gardner Minshew.
“Really I think the guy who have helped him a lot when he first got there was Tyler,” Ryan Gordon said. “He just said he would really help him break down film and kind of learn the offense and hey, this is what’s going on and things like that.”
Gordon accepted his invitation to the Senior Bowl after leading the country in passing yards per game at 429.2 and throwing 48 touchdowns — second behind national champion and Heisman Trophy-winning LSU QB Joe Burrow. He set the Pac-12 single-season record for passing yards, becoming one of just 15 players in the history of college football to surpass 5,000.