UGA football player and staff member killed in car crash


gEorgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and a member of the recruiting staff were killed early Sunday in a car accident, the school said, just hours after the Bulldogs celebrated their second consecutive national championship with a parade and a ceremony.

Two other members of the football program were injured in the crash, which happened in Athens, south of the Georgia campus. They were not immediately identified, but the school said both were in stable condition.

ESPN reported that another offensive lineman, Warren McLendon, was among the injured. The junior announced on Saturday that he was entering the NFL Draft.

The single-vehicle wreckage occurred around 2:45 a.m., according to a statement from the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

The initial investigation revealed that a Ford Expedition “left the roadway, striking two utility poles and several trees,” the statement said.

Willock, 20, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the vehicle, Chandler LeCroy, 24, was taken to hospital, where she died of her injuries.

LeCroy was a recruiting analyst for the Bulldogs.

On Saturday, Georgia marked its 65-7 rout of TCU in the national championship game with a parade through town and a ceremony at Sanford Stadium.

The joyful mood quickly turned to grief.

“We are all heartbroken and devastated by the loss of Devin Willock and Chandler LeCroy,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “Devin was an exceptional young man in every way. He was always smiling, was a great teammate and a joy to coach.

Smart said LeCroy was “a valuable member of our football team and brought incredible attitude and energy every day. We mourn this tragic loss with their families and will support them in any way we can. »

Police said the wreckage is still under investigation and have not determined what factors may have contributed to the accident. It may take several days for an accident report to be issued.

Willock was a 6-foot-7, 335-pound redshirt sophomore from New Milford, New Jersey.

He played a lot as a backup during the 2022 season and started at right guard in the Southeastern Conference wins over Tennessee and Kentucky.

With McClendon and offensive lineman Warren Ericson heading for the NFL Draft, Willock likely would have competed for a starting position in 2023 as the Bulldogs go for a third straight national title.

Athletic director Josh Brooks said Willock and LeCroy were “two special people” who “meant the world to our football program and our athletic department”.

“We will continue to honor their memory for years to come,” Brooks added.

Police say a 21-year-old passenger was slightly injured and a 26-year-old female passenger was seriously injured. “We will continue to monitor their status with medical staff,” the school said.

Georgia also said its mental health and performance staff will “ensure that we provide the best support possible to our staff and to the student-athletes dealing with this grief.”

Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey, who spoke at the championship celebration, tweeted that Willock’s death was “incredibly sad news and we join in sharing our condolences, prayers and support”.

Another Georgia player, linebacker Nolan Smith, said Willock’s death “breaks my heart.”

“All I have to say, the BIG LEAVE (TOO) SOON”, Smith tweeted. “@DevinWillock I LOVE YOU FOREVER.”

A few hours before his death, Willock retweeted a post it showed him hanging out with a young Georgia fan in what appeared to be a restaurant, even letting the youngster wear his championship ring.

“Special thanks to @DevinWillock for taking time for my grandson when he didn’t need it,” the tweet read. “You went out of your way to make him feel special and you made his day!! Good luck next year! Come on Dawgs!

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