By Joe Johnson
A player on the University of Georgia’s national championship football team was killed early Sunday when the SUV he was in crashed in east Athens.
Devin Willock, a 20-year-old offensive guard for the UGA Bulldogs was killed when the 2021 Ford Expedition in which he was a passenger crashed on Barnett Shoals Road at about 2:45 a.m., according to the Athens Clarke County Police Department.
Willock, a 6-foot-7, 335-pound sophomore who wore #77, was from New Milford, NJ.
The Expedition’s driver, 24-year-old Chandler LeCroy of Toccoa, a Bulldogs recruitment staff member, died at the hospital, according to ACCPD, and offensive lineman Warren McClendon Jr., 21, was transported to the hospital where he reportedly received stitches for a head injury and was released.
Another team staffer, Tory Bowles, suffered serious injuries and was said to be in stable condition.
McClendon started nine of Georgia's ten games and was named a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association.
He started all 15 of Georgia's games at right tackle when the Bulldogs won the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship, and was named first team All-Southeastern Conference as a redshirt junior.
Someone who met Willock at an Athens restaurant Saturday night tweeted about the football player letting his grandson try on his championship ring.
"Special thank u to @DevinWillock for taking time for my grandson when he didn’t have to. U went out of ur way to make him feel special and U made his day!! Good luck next year! Go Dawgs!"
Georgia's head coach Kirby Smart issued the following statement about Willock's death:
"We are all heartbroken and devastated with the loss of Devin Willock and Chandler LeCroy. Devin was an outstanding young man in every way. He was always smiling, was a great teammate and a joy to coach. Chandler 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.”
The university also weighed in with this message:
"The entire Georgia family is devastated by the tragic loss of football student-athlete Devin Willock and football staff member Chandler LeCroy. Two other members of the football program were injured in the accident. They are both in stable condition, and we will continue to monitor their status with medical personnel.”
Police said the crash happened when the SUV LeCroy was driving left the roadway while traveling south on Barnett Shoals Road, striking two power poles and several trees before coming to rest against a building at Shoal Creek apartments.
The cause of the crash was being investigated by ACCPD, and police asked for anyone with information about the incident to contact Lt. John Butt at (762) 400-7090 or email@example.com.