Georgia forward Devin Willock and a recruiting employee died early Sunday morning in a car crash, the school said, just hours after the Bulldogs celebrated their second consecutive national championship with a parade and ceremony.
Two other participants in the football program were injured in an accident that occurred in Athens, south of the Georgia campus. They were not immediately identified, but the school said that both were in stable condition.
ESPN reported that another offensive lineman, Warren McLendon, was among the injured. On Saturday, the junior announced that he was participating in the NFL Draft.
The one-vehicle accident occurred at approximately 2:45 am, according to a statement from the Athens-Clark County Police Department.
An initial investigation found that the Ford Expedition “ran off the roadway, hitting two power poles and several trees,” the statement said.
Willock, 20, died at the scene. The driver of the car, 24-year-old Chandler LeCroy, was taken to the hospital, where she died from her injuries.
Lecroy was a recruiting analyst for the Bulldogs.
On Saturday, Georgia celebrated a 65-7 thrashing of TCU in the national championship game with a parade through the city and a ceremony at Sanford Stadium.
The joyful mood was quickly replaced by sadness.
“We are all heartbroken and devastated by the loss of Devin Willock and Chandler LeCroy,” said Georgia coach Kirby Smart. “Devin was an outstanding young man in every way. He was always smiling, he was a great teammate and it was a pleasure to train him.”
Smart said that Lecroy was “a valued member of our football staff and brought incredible vibes and energy every day. We mourn with their families for this tragic loss and will support them in every way we can.”
Police said the crash is still under investigation and they have not determined what factors may have contributed to the crash. It may take several days before the accident report is published.
Willock was a 6-foot-7, 335-pound redshirted sophomore from New Milford, New Jersey.
He played extensively as a stand-in in the 2022 season and started at right guard in Southeastern Conference victories over Tennessee and Kentucky.
With McClendon and offensive lineman Warren Erickson heading for the NFL Draft, Willock would likely be in contention for the starting position in 2023 as the Bulldogs go for a third straight national title.
Athletic director Josh Brooks said that Willock and Lecroy were “two very special people” who “meant a lot to our football program and sports department”.
“We will continue to honor their memory in the coming years,” Brooks added.
Police said a 21-year-old male passenger suffered minor injuries and a 26-year-old female passenger suffered serious injuries. “We will continue to monitor their condition with medical staff,” the school said.
Georgia also said its mental health and performance staff “will make sure we provide the best possible support to our staff and student-athletes who are going through this grief.”
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey speaking at the championship celebration, tweeted that Willock’s death was “incredibly sad news and we share our condolences, prayers and support.”
Another Georgia player, linebacker Nolan Smith, said that Willock’s death “hurt my heart”.
“All I have to say is THE GREAT ONES ARE LEAVING (TOO) SOON” Smith tweeted. “@DevinWillock I LOVE YOU FOREVER.”
A few hours before death Willock retweeted the post it showed that he spent time with a young Georgia fan at a restaurant, even allowing the youngster to wear his championship ring.
“Special thanks to @DevinWillock for making time for my grandson when it wasn’t needed,” the tweet read. “You went above and beyond to make him feel special and you made his day!! Good luck next year! Go ahead, Dogs!”