Former KU running back Brandon Bourbon found dead in rural Missouri

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POTOSI, Mo. (Wichita Eagle) – The porch light was on at the blue house on Saturn Road, illuminating the dozen cars parked haphazardly around the lot.

Just after 8:30 p.m. Friday, friends and family had come to comfort Janet and Roger Bourbon, whose son, Brandon, had been found dead about 80 miles west of his hometown earlier that day.

Bourbon, a former Kansas football player, had been missing since the night of April 2. According to the Maries County Sheriff’s Office, Bourbon’s body was discovered on a secluded riverfront property off Route AA, just north of Vienna. Washington County Chief Deputy Zach Jacobsen said Bourbon was found inside his van around 2 p.m. after a farmer had noticed the vehicle on his land.

Authorities had been searching for the van after Bourbon was added to missing persons reports in Missouri and Kansas.

Now, it was time for the family to mourn. There were uncles smoking cigarettes on the front lawn, talking about how they’d just seen Brandon in recent weeks. There were family friends that walked up who spoke about knowing Brandon their whole life.

Inside the house, family members sat on couches just below two oversized frames. One contained Brandon’s blue 25 KU uniform, the name “Bourbon” stretching across the back. The other was an action shot of him as a running back at Washburn for his final season, tucking the ball in his arm while wearing a white No. 9 jersey.

Janet and Roger, through Washington County deputy Garth Rogers on scene, declined comment.

Former teammate Ben Heeney, a KU linebacker now with the Oakland Raiders who was Bourbon’s roommate for four years at KU, posted this on Twitter: “Rest in peace to my best friend, my brother, my beard bro. U affected so many lives Brandon. I love u more than you know.”

When reached by phone, Heeney had trouble coming up with words about his friend.

“It’s just hard to talk about right now,” Heeney said. “Maybe give me a day or two.”

Kansas football coach David Beaty issued a statement: “Our hearts are broken to hear the news of the passing of Brandon Bourbon. Brandon was a wonderful teammate and friend. He was a tireless worker both on the field and in the classroom and was a constant source of inspiration within our program. The entire Jayhawk family cared very deeply for him and he will always be in our hearts. Our thoughts and prayers are with Brandon’s family and friends.”

Bourbon was a running back at KU from 2010-14 before transferring to Washburn last season. He came in as a top-rated recruit out of Potosi High before battling numerous leg and knee injuries with the Jayhawks.

Rogers said Bourbon’s body would be returned to Potosi on Saturday, when an autopsy was scheduled to take place.

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