CORAL GABLES – The entire college football world was shocked by the news that three Virginia football players were killed Sunday night, with the alleged killer himself being a former Cavalier.
UVA wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr., linebacker D’Sean Perry and wide receiver Devin Chandler were killed and two others injured in a shootout. The suspect, former Virginia Walk-On Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., was arrested Monday.
“Only thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Charlottesville,” said Miami coach Mario Cristobal. “Inexpressibly and simply everyone mourns for her. Our hearts mourn. Thoughts and prayers and any support they should ever need from us, they have it.”
Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis said he spoke to Virginia football coach Tony Elliott on Monday morning to offer him his condolences.
“Obviously he’s a strong man of faith but a tremendous tragic loss to have just experienced,” Gattis said. “I just send my heart and thoughts and prayers to the team and the university there.”
Davis and Perry both had Oregon offers from Cristobal when they were recruited out of high school. A native of South Florida, Perry was a graduate of Miami Gulliver Prep.
“I think more importantly just thoughts and prayers with their families man,” Cristobal said. “Good, good, good, good, good young people, good young men. future ahead of them. Anyone who knows or doesn’t know their families but is connected to the conference, to college football, to sports, to life in general, has to do whatever it takes to support them because what they’re going through isn’t like us could ever imagine or ever hope or wish for anyone. So we all really, really have to do everything we can to show our support.”
Messages of condolence from Miami coaches, staff and players on Monday as the news broke. Miami played the Cavaliers on October 29 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Prayers to the University of Virginia community and the (Virginia football) family,” defensive line coach Joe Salave’a wrote on his Twitter account.
“Praying for the friends/families of the UVA tragedy… Psalm 34:18,” wrote wide receiver Xavier Restrepo on his Twitter page.
The Hurricanes have had unfortunate experiences of violence against a player. In 2006, defense attorney Bryan Pata was killed outside his Kendall home. Almost 15 years later, a former Hurricane, Rashaun Jones, was arrested and charged with murder.
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Cristobal was the Hurricanes’ offensive line coach in 2006. Pata’s older brother, Edwin Pata, works for the Hurricanes as a Quality Control Analyst.
“Thoughts and prayers to the entire UVA family!” Pata wrote on Twitter.
In a second tweet, which included images of the killed players, he added, “Rest in paradise young kings.”
Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said coaches were speaking to players about the tragedy.
“Like 9/11 happened one day and we’re in the middle of football season, we have a game this week,” Steele said. “You have to address these things. You don’t just walk in and throw football. If you say you care, you have to show them you care.”
Steele also offered his condolences, saying he has endured player deaths in the past but nothing compared to what Virginia is going through Monday.
“It was just an isolated incident – that’s one heartbroken family, one heartbroken football family – but not three,” Steele said. “It’s unimaginable.”