I vividly remember going up against Ryan back in 2007 every day at practice. He had a huge smile any time you saw him. Prayers go out to his wife and kids and family. —Former BYU linebacker David Nixon, on Ryan Folsom
PROVO — Ryan Folsom, a former BYU football player and aspiring physician, was killed Sunday when a car traveling the wrong direction collided head-on with his vehicle on Interstate 5 in Anderson, California.
Folsom, 29, who was a walk-on running back from 2007 and 2010-11, recorded one of the longest runs from scrimmage in school history — a 74-yard gain in a win at Colorado State on Nov. 13, 2010.
The Medford, Oregon, native is survived by two young sons and his wife, Lauren, who is expecting their third child this month. Folsom was driving to Sacramento for a hospital interview when the crash occurred.
Several of Folsom’s former BYU teammates paid tribute to him on social media.
“I vividly remember going up against Ryan back in 2007 every day at practice,” wrote former linebacker David Nixon. “He had a huge smile any time you saw him. Prayers go out to his wife and kids and family.”
“Heart breaking news,” wrote former Cougar defensive lineman Vic So’oto. “Ryan never had a bad day. He was always happy and worked his (butt) off. The Folsom family will be in our thoughts and prayers.”
“Ryan embodied everything good about BYU football,” wrote former linebacker Brandon Ogletree. “He was smart, dedicated, competitive, tough, and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.”
“Ryan was one of the most positive people I’ve ever met, would do anything for anyone,” wrote former long snapper Reed Hornung. “He worked hard in everything he did. He will be missed, thoughts and prayers are with the Folsom family.”
Folsom served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Korea Seoul West Mission from 2008-2010 and he majored in neuroscience at BYU.
Folsom was driving south in a 2012 Honda Accord Sunday at 12:15 when he was hit head-on by a northbound Chevrolet Impala, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Folsom’s car slid down an embankment and he was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the CHP. The woman driving the Chevrolet Impala was identified as Grace Elizabeth Ward, 28. According to police, Ward suffered a broken leg. She may have been suicidal at the time but the case remains under investigation, police said.
Before his BYU career, Folsom was a star running back at North Medford High. He rushed for a single-season rushing record of 1,743 yards in 2005.
A fund to help cover funeral costs and other expenses, such as the Folsoms' medical-school debt, has been established at https://www.gofundme.com/ryan-folsom-memorial-fund. As of Tuesday morning, more than $126,000 had been raised.