Devin Wheelock, a running back for the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team, died in a car crash that killed another person and injured two others early Sunday morning, the school said. The accident happened just hours after the Bulldogs celebrated their second straight national championship win with a parade and ceremony.
Wheelock, 20, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the car, 24-year-old Chandler LeCroy, was taken to the hospital, where he later died from his injuries. LeCroy was a football recruiting analyst for the Bulldogs who previously earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Georgia. Two other members of the football program were also injured in the crash, which occurred just south of the university’s campus in Athens, Georgia. Their identities were not immediately released, but the school said both were in stable condition.
ESPN reported that another offensive lineman, Warren McLendon, was among the injured. Jr. announced Saturday that he is entering the NFL draft.
According to a news release from the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, the one-vehicle wreck happened at approximately 2:45 a.m.
A preliminary investigation revealed that the Ford Expedition “went off the roadway, striking two utility poles and several trees,” according to the release.
Georgia celebrated its 65-7 rout of TCU in the national championship game on Saturday with a parade through the city and a ceremony at Sanford Stadium.
The happy mood quickly turned to sadness.
“We are all heartbroken and devastated by the loss of Devin Wheelock and Chandler LeCroy,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “Devin was an outstanding young man in every way. He was always smiling, 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 day. We sympathize with their families for this tragic loss and will support them in any way we can.”
Police said the wreck is still under investigation and they have not determined what factors may have contributed to the crash. It may take several days for the crash report to be published.
Wheelock was a 6-foot-7, 335-pound redshirt sophomore from New Milford, New Jersey.
He played heavily as a backup during the 2022 season and started at right guard in Southeastern Conference wins over Tennessee and Kentucky.
Departing for the NFL draft with McClendon and offensive lineman Warren Erickson, Willock would likely compete for the starting job in 2023 as the Bulldogs go for a third straight national title.
Athletic director Josh Brooks said Wheelock and LeCroy are “two special people” who “have meant the world to our football program and athletic department.”
“We will continue to honor their memory for years to come,” added Brooks.
“The entire Georgia family is devastated by the tragic loss of football student-athlete Devin Wheelock and football staff member Chandler LeCroy,” the University of Georgia Athletic Association said in a statement. statement“The UGA Athletic Association will work with our medical team, as well as our mental health and performance staff, to ensure that we provide the best support possible to our staff and student-athletes as they process this grief. We cannot provide any further comment at this time, but ask that everyone continue to keep those involved in your prayers.”
The 21-year-old male passenger received minor injuries and the 26-year-old female passenger received serious injuries, police said. “We will continue to monitor their status with the medical staff,” said the school.
Georgia also said its mental health and performance staff “will make sure we provide the best support possible to our staff and student-athletes as they process this grief.”
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, who spoke at the championship celebration, on Twitter that Wheelock’s death was “incredibly sad news and we join in sharing our condolences, prayers and support.”
Another Georgia player, linebacker Nolan Smith, said Wheelock’s death “breaks my heart.”
“All I have to say is the BIG ONES LEAVE (TOO) SOON,” Smith on Twitter. “@DevinWillock I LOVE YOU FOREVER!”
A few hours before his death. Wheelock reopened the post it showed him spending time with a young Georgia fan in a restaurant scene, even letting the youngster wear his championship ring.
“Special thanks to @DevinWillock for making time for my grandson when he didn’t have to,” the tweet read. “You went out of your way to make her feel special and you made her day. Good luck next year! Go Dougs.”