The Tarleton State football program has suffered another shocking loss.

Cody Stephens, a Crosby High School senior who recently signed a national letter of intent to play football for Tarleton beginning this fall, was found dead in his home Sunday night. Crosby is a small town just east of Houston.

According to a source with knowledge of the tragedy, Stephens, a 6 foot, 9 inch, 305 pound lineman, went to sleep in a recliner early Sunday evening and never awoke.

Stephens, 18, had family in Stephenville. He is cousins with Kirby Stephens, a past president of the Stephenville Athletic Booster Club, and his son, Trevor Stephens, a starting offensive lineman for the Yellow Jackets' 2011 state quarterfinal team.

After Stephens signed with Tarleton, Fowler praised him on the university's athletics website, tarletonsports.com, saying, "Cody is just what (we) have been searching for on the offensive side of the ball with great size and a physical style of play. Cody is big with unlimited potential. He anchored the offensive line for Crosby with his size and athleticism and will provide large depth for (our) line next season with a huge upside for being a standout offensive tackle in the Lone Star Conference."

Fowler was in individual exit meetings with Tarleton players Monday morning and was not immediately available for comment.

It's the third death the Tarleton football program has endured in recent years. Defensive lineman Zach Shaver from Wichita Falls died of head injuries sustained during a spring football scrimmage in 2010, and Dr. Ron Newsome, known affectionately as the 'Sports Doctor' was the radio voice of the Texans until passing away last month.

Follow Brad Keith on Twitter @etsports