Vikings rookie Jackson among 3 killed in crash

  • ESPN

Jul 6, 2024, 11:49 AM ET

Minnesota Vikings rookie cornerback Khyree Jackson and two former college football players were killed in a car crash overnight, according to Maryland State Police. Jackson was 24.

Jackson died after a three-car crash that occurred at 3:14 a.m. Saturday in Prince George’s County, according to police. Isaiah Hazel and Anthony Lytton Jr. — the two former players who were high school teammates of Jackson’s — were also killed in the crash, police said.

Hazel, 23, played at Maryland and Charlotte, while Lytton, 24, played at Florida State and Penn State.

Police said Hazel was driving a Dodge Charger with Jackson in the passenger seat when their car was struck by an Infiniti Q50 attempting to change lanes at a high speed. The Charger left the road and struck multiple tree stumps.

According to police, Jackson and Hazel were pronounced dead at the scene, while Lytton was transported to a hospital before being pronounced dead by hospital personnel.

Neither the driver of the Infiniti Q50 nor her two passengers or the driver of the third vehicle was injured. Investigators believe alcohol may have played a role in the crash, police said, adding that charges are pending.

Jackson was selected by the Vikings in the fourth round of this year’s draft and had been considered a contender to start at cornerback.

“We are devastated by the news of Khyree Jackson’s death following an overnight car accident,” the Vikings said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with Khyree’s family, friends, teammates and coaches, as well as all the victims of this tragic accident.”

Jackson played his final season of college football at Oregon, and Ducks coach Dan Lanning was among those paying tribute to Jackson on social media.

RIP Khyree… Love you @Real_Khyree at a loss for words. I will miss your smile. Great player better person.

— Dan Lanning (@CoachDanLanning) July 6, 2024

Alabama mourns the loss of former student-athlete Khyree Jackson. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/eHeZGFpqHb

— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) July 6, 2024

Maryland and Charlotte coach Biff Poggi both mourned Hazel’s death on social media, as did Penn State for Lytton.

Jackson was an all-Pac-12 first-team selection for Oregon in 2023. Before joining the Ducks, he played two seasons at Alabama under coach Nick Saban.

“I am absolutely crushed by this news,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said in a statement. “Khyree brought a contagious energy to our facility and our team. His confidence and engaging personality immediately drew his teammates to him. In our short time together, it was evident Khyree was going to develop into a tremendous professional football player, but what was more impressive was his desire to become the best person he could be for his family and those around him. I am at a loss for words. My heart goes out to Khyree’s family, friends, teammates and coaches.”

Jackson became an instant favorite among Vikings fans after he described his long journey from high school to the NFL draft. Speaking to Minnesota reporters after the draft, he said he was a non-qualifier after graduating from Wise High School in Maryland in 2017. He spent time at three junior colleges while taking two seasons away from the game before landing at Alabama in 2021.

During that interim, he said, he worked in the deli at a Harris Teeter grocery store and at one point won an award for employee of the month. “I told my mom and one point in time, ‘I guess I’m about to be working at a grocery store,'” Jackson said. Later he gave serious thought to joining the NBA 2K league.

“When I ended up leaving my first junior college,” he said, “I was home for about six months, but I told my friends that I was still in school. I stayed at my house for six straight months and nobody knew. It was kind of eating away at me, and then I finally just eventually told my friends. That moment really told me, like, man, if I was embarrassed to even tell them, I might want to get out and try to do it again instead of sitting here and sulking.”

Of his journey to Power 5 football and eventually the NFL, Jackson said he had no regrets.

“I wouldn’t change it for the world, though,” he said. “I feel like it taught me a lot of perseverance. It helped turn me into the man that I am today. I feel like I don’t take no shortcuts. I take everything for what it is and don’t really question too many things. I feel like that mentality came from juco and being at the bottom and seeing what it’s like to not have anything to having everything going to some of the top programs.”

Information from ESPN’s Kevin Seifert was used in this report.