Devin Chandler had every reason to back off of or bolt from his then-recent pledge to Virginia.
There was still enough time to change his mind, too, especially considering the circumstance.
“I knew I had other options, but this was still a great opportunity,” Chandler, one of three members of the UVa football team killed in Sunday night’s shooting on Grounds, said after a training camp practice this past August.
The Wisconsin transfer had committed in December to join the Cavaliers on the heels of a visit from former coach Bronco Mendenhall.
What Chandler said he never anticipated was Mendenhall’s decision to step down from his post a few days later.
“Coach Mendenhall actually came up to Wisconsin and met me in my apartment,” Chandler said, “and three or four days later, he was gone from his job.
“It was a real curveball.”
But it wasn’t enough for Chandler, who nearly decided to attend UVa out of William Amos Hough High School in North Carolina, to opt against UVa again.
He badly wanted to be a member of the Hoos this time around, and had developed a relationship so tight with Cavaliers assistant coach Marques Hagans that he didn’t want to disappoint Hagans.
“Coach Hagans had called me that same day [that Mendenhall left] and he told me to trust him,” Chandler said, “and that he’d explain the whole situation and everything that was going on during those couple of days.
“And Coach Hagans has been someone that has always kept his word,” Chandler said, “so I trusted him and trusted the process and now we have another great coach with Coach [Tony] Elliott, who I think is going to help take this program take the next step.”
That’s the kind of attitude Chandler maintained while with the Cavaliers, too. He was just so happy and thrilled to be part of the UVa program.
He said then in August that he would’ve loved to contribute as a kick returner and punt returner, and thought in future years that his speed could help create big plays down the field for their offense.
The coming seasons should’ve been his time to impact the team.
While with Wisconsin, Chandler had a 59-yard kickoff return for the Badgers in their 2020 Duke’s Mayo Bowl appearance against Wake Forest. He registered four returns for 85 yards in 2021.
“I was shocked and saddened to hear of Devin’s passing,” Wisconsin coach Jim Leonhard said in a statement. “He had a lasting impact on his teammates, even after he left UW, which is a testament to the type of person he was. His personality was infectious and he was a joy to be around.
“Our team is hurting for him and his family,” Leonhard said. “I want to personally extend my condolences to his family and the Virginia football family.”
Chandler would’ve been eligible to claim a redshirt this year, having not appeared in any games, and he would have had three years left with the Hoos to take the field for the team he was so determined to stick with when he did not have to.