Steelers rookie to honor late Georgia teammate

  • Previously covered the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star and Oklahoma University for the Oklahoman.

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie offensive tackle Broderick Jones is carrying the memory of his former teammate and roommate with him to the NFL.

Jones, selected by Pittsburgh with the No. 14 overall pick in the NFL draft, will wear No. 77 with the Steelers to honor former Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock, who was killed earlier this year in a car crash in Athens, Georgia.

“They told me the number was available, and I just wanted to show my respects by taking that number and letting it live through me,” Jones said Friday.

Willock, who wore No. 77 for the Bulldogs, and Georgia recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy were killed Jan. 15, hours after the team celebrated its second consecutive national championship with a parade and ceremony in Athens.

According to police, LeCroy was driving an SUV at approximately 104 mph when it left the road and hit two power poles and several trees. Police said her blood alcohol concentration was .197, about 2½ times the legal limit in Georgia.

LeCroy allegedly was racing a vehicle driven by former Georgia star defensive lineman Jalen Carter, who was selected Thursday night by the Eagles with the No. 9 overall pick. Carter pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing last month and was sentenced to 12 months of probation, a $1,000 fine, 80 hours of community service and completion of a state-approved defensive driving course.

Through attorneys, Willock’s father recently notified the board of regents of the University System of Georgia that the family plans to seek $2 million in damages for his son’s wrongful death, ESPN has learned through an open documents request.

Jones, 21, is the first offensive tackle drafted by the Steelers in the first round since Jamain Stephens in 1996. A first-team All-SEC selection in 2022, Jones didn’t allow a sack in 445 pass blocks at tackle in his final season with the Bulldogs. Though he spent only three seasons at Georgia, Jones said he was ready to begin his NFL career after winning consecutive national championships with the Bulldogs.

“I just felt like my job was finished at the University of Georgia,” he said. “Two national championships, SEC championship, all-SEC — I felt like I did all I could there. I feel like there was nothing left for me to do there, so it was time for me to move on to bigger and better things.”

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