Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and a recruiting staff member were killed in a car accident early Sunday, the school said, just hours after the Bulldogs celebrated their second straight national championship with a parade and ceremony.
Two other members of the football program were injured in the crash, which took place in Athens, south of the Georgia campus. They were not immediately identified, but the school said they are both in stable condition.
According to a statement from the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, the unilateral wreck occurred around 2:45 a.m.
On Saturday, Georgia marked its 65-7 defeat of TCU in the national championship game with a parade through town and a ceremony at Sanford Stadium.
The initial investigation found that a Ford Expedition “went off the road and hit two utility poles and several trees,” the statement said.
Willock, 20, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the vehicle, 24-year-old Chandler LeCroy, was taken to a hospital where she died of her injuries.
LeCroy was a recruiting analyst for the Bulldogs.
“We are all heartbroken and devastated at the loss of Devin Willock and Chandler LeCroy,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said in a statement. “Devin was an outstanding young man in every way. He was always smiling, a great teammate and a pleasure to coach.”
Smart said LeCroy was “a valuable member of our football staff, bringing incredible attitude and energy to each day. We grieve with their families for this tragic loss and will support them in any way we can.”
Police said the wreckage is still under investigation and they have not determined what factors may have contributed to the crash. It may take several days for a report to be issued.
“The entire Georgia family is devastated by the tragic loss of college football student-athlete Devin Willock and football associate Chandler LeCroy,” the school’s statement said. “Devin and Chandler were two special people who meant so much to the University of Georgia, our football program and our athletic department. We ask everyone to keep their families in your prayers during this very difficult time.”
Willock’s teammates expressed their disbelief and sadness about the fatal accident on Twitter and Instagram on Sunday.
“No this one hurt, I was just with you last night,” Sevaughn Clark wrote, running back, on Instagram.
Defensive defender Kamari Lassiter wrote on his Instagram story that the situation “didn’t feel right at all”.
“We were just slashing it at the busman yesterday,” Lassiter said.
Former UGA defensive lineman Jordan Davis tweeted a tribute to both Willock and LeCroy Sunday, who said he was “heartbroken”.
“Watching them grow and become like family in these few years,” Davis wrote. “There is no sorrow without love, and we love you both as family.”
Willock was a six-foot-tall, 335-pound sophomore from New Milford, New Jersey.
He played extensively as a backup during the 2022 season, starting as a right guard in Southeastern Conference wins over Tennessee and Kentucky.
With linemen Warren McClendon and Warren Ericson declaring for the NFL draft, Willock would likely have been in contention for a starting position in 2023 as the Bulldogs go for a third consecutive national title.
According to police, a 21-year-old male passenger suffered minor injuries and a 26-year-old female passenger suffered serious injuries. Neither the school nor police have released their identities, but Georgia’s statement said, “We will continue to monitor their status with medical personnel.”
Georgia also said its mental health and performance staff would “ensure that we provide the best possible support to our staff and student-athletes as they process this grief.”
A few hours before his death Willock retweeted a post that showed him taking time 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 with my grandson when it wasn’t necessary,” the tweet read. “You did everything you could to make him feel special and you made his day!! Good luck next year! Go Dawgs!
Suzanne Ciechalski contributed.