Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and a recruiting staff member were killed early Sunday in a car wreck, 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 occurred in Athens, south of the Georgia campus. They were not immediately identified, but the school said both were in stable condition.
The single-vehicle wreck occurred at approximately 2:45 a.m., according to a statement from the Athens-Clarke County police department.
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 initial investigation found that a Ford Expedition “left the roadway, striking two power poles and several trees,” the statement said.
The 20-year-old Willock was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the vehicle, 24-year-old Chandler LeCroy, was transported to a hospital, where she died from her injuries.
LeCroy was a recruiting analyst for the Bulldogs.
“We are all heartbroken and devastated with 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, was a great teammate and a joy to coach.”
Smart said LeCroy was “a valuable member of our football staff and brought an incredible attitude and energy every single day. We grieve with their families for this tragic loss and will support them in every way possible.”
Police said the wreck was still under investigation and they have not determined what factors may have contributed to the crash. It may be several days before a report is issued.
“The entire Georgia family is devastated by the tragic loss of football student-athlete Devin Willock and football staff member 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 that everyone keep their families in your prayers during this very difficult time.”
Willock’s teammates expressed their disbelief and grief over the fatal accident on Twitter and Instagram Sunday.
“Nah this one hurt, I was just wit you last night,” Sevaughn Clark, running back, wrote on Instagram.
Kamari Lassiter, defensive back, wrote that the situation didn’t “feel right at all” on his Instagram story.
“We were just chopping it up yesterday on the bus man,” Lassiter said.
Former UGA defensive lineman Jordan Davis tweeted a tribute to both Willock and LeCroy Sunday, saying he was “heartbroken.”
“Watching them grow and become like family over these few years,” Davis wrote. “There is no grief without love, and we love both of you like family.”
Willock was a 6-foot-7, 335-pound redshirt sophomore from New Milford, New Jersey.
He played extensively as a backup during the 2022 season and started at right guard in Southeastern Conference victories over Tennessee and Kentucky.
With linemen Warren McClendon and Warren Ericson declaring for the NFL draft, Willock likely would have been competing for a starting position in 2023 as the Bulldogs go for a third straight national title.
Police said a 21-year-old male passenger sustained minor injuries and a 26-year-old female passenger sustained serious injuries. Neither the school nor police released their identities, but the Georgia statement said “we will continue to monitor their status with medical personnel.”
Georgia also said its mental health and performance personnel would “make sure we are providing the best support possible for our staff and student-athletes who are processing this grief.”
A few hours before his death, Willock retweeted a post that showed him taking time with a young Georgia fan at what appeared to a restaurant, even letting the youngster wear his championship ring.
“Special thank u to @DevinWillock for taking time for my grandson when he didn’t have to,” the tweet said. “U went out of ur way to make him feel special and U made his day!! Good luck next year! Go Dawgs!”
Doha Madani is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News. Pronouns: she/her.