Georgia family will forever cherish interaction with Devin Willock

UGA football player, recruiting staff member killed in car crash

UGA football player, recruiting staff member killed in car crash

ATHENS — Sam Kramer had just sat down at a table with his wife and grandson at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant in west Athens on Saturday when they noticed a huge man walking toward the front of the restaurant.

An avid Georgia Bulldogs fan and season ticket holder, Kramer thought he recognized the individual. A quick Google search confirmed his suspicions.

It was Devin Willock, redshirt sophomore offensive lineman for the two-time national champion Bulldogs.

“I said, ‘Hey, Devin, congratulations on today,’” Kramer recounted in a phone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. “He gave me a fist bump, and Camdyn just sort of star-gazed at him. He gave Camdyn a fist bump, too, and the fist he used was the one with his championship ring was on.”

Camdyn, 7, is also a Georgia football fan, and he immediately recognized the ring, because he has a replica in a case back in his room in White, Ga., in Bartow County. Camdyn told Willock so, and a conversation began.

The next thing they knew, Willock’s ring was on little Camdyn’s finger.

“He said, ‘Well, this is a real ring,’ and that’s when my camera came out,” Kramer said. “That ring is ginormous, especially coming off an offensive lineman’s finger. It could have gone on Camdyn’s wrist.”

The Kramer family couldn’t believe their luck, or the kindness and patience of the encounter that had with Willock.

Camdyn Kramer, 7, of White, Ga., shows off Devin Willock's championship ring after meeting the Georgia football player at Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Athens on Saturday. Willock died in a car accident several hours later. (Photo provided to AJC by Sam Kramer)

Credit: special

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Credit: special

They were horrified to awake Sunday morning and learn that Willock was dead. The 20-year-old Georgia football player was killed in a 2:45 a.m. car crash in East Athens. Also dead was the 24-year-old driver of the 2021 Ford Expedition, Chandler LeCroy, a member of UGA football’s recruiting staff.

Football player Warren McClendon and recruiting staffer Tory Bowles were injured in the accident, Bowles seriously, according to police.

“He was definitely on his way out the door, and we kind of drug him back in,” said Kramer, 47, a retired Navy logistics chief. “That was one of these things that impressed me about Devin. You see a lot of these other football players and they have other places that they want to be. It’s hard for them to go out for dinner or be out in town without people running up to them. Devin embraced it. He stayed there until he and Camdyn were done. I just stood there and took pictures.”

That was at 5:33 p.m. Saturday. Kramer posted the pictures on social media a short time later. Willock retweeted the post on Twitter at 6:49 p.m. He included three heart emojis.

“I was basically trying to bring attention to a really cool interaction between him and my grandson,” Kramer said. “I mean, you just never know. I’m waking up this morning having people calling me saying, ‘Devin died and this is what happened.’ You’re just kind of numb. The first thing that popped into my mind is, ‘What could I have done?’ Maybe if I had let him go, his plans would’ve changed. Maybe if we had talked to him a little longer. At the end of the day, there’s probably nothing else I could have done.”

Hours earlier, Kramer and his family attended the Bulldogs’ national championship celebration at Sanford Stadium. He said they ended up at Texas Roadhouse only because it had the shortest wait.

“I just feel really bad for the families of everyone involved, the recruiting staff, the players, for everyone,” Kramer said. “It’s just been a whirlwind of emotions, and I can’t even imagine what the team is going through.”

Willock, a 6-foot-7, 335-pound redshirt sophomore from New Milford, N.J., died at the scene of the crash, according to police. The car in which he was a passenger exited the right side of Barnett Shoals Road in East Athens and struck two power poles and several trees. LeCroy, the driver, died later at a hospital. McClendon’s injuries were described by police as minor. Bowles’ injuries are “serious.”

Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock (77, center wearing glasses) walks with fellow offensive lineman Tate Ratledge (69, left) and others during the Dawg Walk in the 2022 National Championship Celebration on Saturday at Sanford Stadium. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Willock signed with Georgia out of Paramus Catholic High as a four-star prospect in the recruiting class of 2020. He played in all 15 games this past season as a backup at left guard and also had two starts. He played in 13 of 15 games as a freshman last year.

Camdyn had a soccer practice Sunday. Afterward, Kramer tried to explain to him what had happened to that new friend he made at the restaurant the night before.

“I don’t think he really fully grasps the finality of everything,” Kramer said of the grandson he and his wife Stephanie are raising. “He was just, like, ‘OK.’ I don’t think it has really hit him yet, being so young. As he gets older I’m sure it will affect him more.”

Kramer himself is quite “shook up.” He became emotional while being interviewed for this story.

“It’s a tragedy,” he said. “I don’t know what all happened with the accident. I just hope it’s a wake-up call for good decision-making, and I hope people grab up their families and hold them a little tighter, because you can’t get this back.”

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