Georgia, Kirby Smart praying for Virginia after deadly shooting

ATHENS — Kirby Smart has spoken to the Georgia football team about the tragic events that unfolded in Virginia earlier this week.

The shooting that resulted in the death of three football players was particularly unsettling to the Bulldogs’ seventh-year coach because he is close friends with Cavaliers coach Tony Elliott and athletic director Carla Williams.

ExploreThe AJC's complete coverage of the Bulldogs

“We talked a little bit about it today,” Smart said after Georgia completed its practice Tuesday at the Butts-Mehre football complex. “I didn’t talk about it (Monday) because I didn’t know much. I didn’t know many of the details and still don’t.”

University of Virginia students Lavel Davis, D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler died in a shooting on campus Sunday. Williams confirmed that the alleged shooter, Christopher Darnell Jones, was a walk-on running back for the Cavaliers for one semester in 2018.

The three players were returning from a class trip Sunday night when authorities said they were killed by a fellow student, The Associated Press reported. Two other students were wounded, including another football player. Mike Hollins, a running back, underwent his second surgery Tuesday and is expected to survive.

Smart said he can’t imagine having to make the phone calls to parents that Elliott and Williams, a former Georgia deputy AD and women’s basketball player, had to make.

“I certainly have a lot of respect for Tony Elliott,” Smart said. “He’s been a good friend of mine since he was at Clemson and I was recruiting at Alabama. We always spent time together on the road. I just cannot fathom having to make that call to someone’s parents. Carla Williams is up there, too, who I have a lot of respect for. She did a tremendous job here.

“To have to go through that with their team and what they’re experiencing, our hearts and prayers go out to them.”

Virginia’s game scheduled for Saturday afternoon at home against Coastal Carolina was canceled, the school announced Wednesday morning. No decision has been made regarding the Cavaliers’ season finale scheduled for Nov. 26 at Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers (3-7) are not eligible for a bowl this season.