Padgett did not show up for a workout Friday morning and coaches started to worry, contacting his family.
Padgett was found at his home and apparently died in his sleep. So far, though, there is no official cause of death.
"Our team is devastated by this news," Rice Owls head coach Mike Bloomgren said in a statement. "All of my thoughts right now are how best to help Blain's family and his teammates in this very difficult period."
Padgett, who was billed at 6'5" and 250 pounds, completed his third season at Rice as a redshirt junior. He called Sour Lake, Texas home and he graduated from Hardin Jefferson High School.
While at Hardin Jefferson, Padgett was honored as a defensive MVP for the team. He also was four-year starter for the Hawks and notched district championships in track and field.
During his freshman year, Padgett was thrust immediately into the lineup and made his first collegiate start vs. Southern Miss.
Padgett had a monster sophomore year, leading the defensive line with 41 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss.
The Padgett family released this statement Sunday:
We just appreciate everyone's support and love! He was a gentle giant and loved his family, friends, his country, and his football brothers and coaches so much! We don't know why he was taken so early but he lived a full life and enjoyed everything about life! Wyndi Padgett