Virginia football speaks about honoring the past, moving forward at ACC Kickoff event

Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 6:01 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, Va. (WDBJ) - When faced with unimaginable tragedy, the Virginia football team chose to reveal its character and find inspiration.

“The way that you get through it is together. That’s the beauty of football, it’s the ultimate team sport,” says Virginia football coach Tony Elliott.

In November 2022, football players Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were shot and killed.

This September, the Hoos will take the field against Tennessee for the first time since the tragedy, with a weight on and in their chests.

“They understood that they have a responsibility to Lavel, Devin, and D’Sean to move forward in the right way. Not moving on, there’s a difference. We’re never going to forget this,” he adds.

“I think that we are a program that is looking to get back on it’s feet especially after what’s happened and I think that we’re a program who is looking to be the model,” explains Chico Bennett, DE for Virginia.

The 2023 Wahoos will look a little different too. In addition to once again rebuilding their offensive line, Virginia will have a new quarterback in transfer Tony Muskett, who is looking to use new resources to find success in Power 5 football.

“I think we’ve got a lot of guys who don’t have a lot of exposure right now, a lot of people don’t know them, but they will very, very quickly into the season because there’s some playmakers,” he starts. “On the O-line, running backs, tight ends, and receivers. We have some guys who can seriously play at a high level and anything I can do to get them the ball and show them off, I’m going to do that, and I can’t wait to see them work.”

As the program looks to rebuild in more ways than one, the support from each other is what the players say- will allow them to stand.

“In coming to Virginia, it’s a brotherhood unlike anything I’ve ever experienced it’s really a tight knit group even in the last staff transitioning into the new staff. We’re all tight, we’re all close, we all love each other. That’s something unique I think makes us strong,” explains UVA RB Perris Jones.

“Every person that I’ve met that supports the University of Virginia, supports football, has a big vision of what it can be. Now we have to go put in the work collectively to bring it to life,” says Coach Elliott.