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Uniform in Their Support

Around the nation, football pays tribute to UVA’s fallen

Virginia Tech assistant football coach Fontel Mines (Col ’07), a former Virginia wide receiver, runs onto the field carrying a UVA flag before a game at Liberty University on the Saturday following the shootings. Virginia Tech Athletics

The sport of college football stood with the University of Virginia in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Cavalier football players Lavel Davis Jr. (Col ’24), Devin Chandler (Col ’24) and D’Sean Perry (Col ’23) on Nov. 13. On the following Saturday, teams from across the nation paid tribute with moments of silence, and helmet decals and uniform patches, some bearing the message “UVA Strong” and others with the jersey numbers (1, 15, 41) of the players.

In-state, players at James Madison, Liberty, Old Dominion and Virginia Tech wore decals with an orange ribbon over a blue outline of the state of Virginia and the hashtag #VIRGINIASTRONG.

Arizona State and other schools in the Pac-12 painted the hash marks at the 1-, 15- and 41-yard lines orange. Sun Devil Athletics

The Washington Commanders donned helmet decals. Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders
Juan Thornhill (Col ’18) of the Kansas City Chiefs, a former Virginia safety, wore tributes on his cleats.

Nine former Virginia assistant coaches now at other schools, ranging from Syracuse to Washington State, wore UVA gear on the sideline for their games with their respective teams. At Liberty, Virginia Tech assistant coach Fontel Mines (Col ’07) carried a UVA flag as the Hokies ran on the field to face the Flames. The teams created a Virginia palette on the field, with Tech wearing orange uniforms and Liberty in navy blue. The Liberty band played “The Good Old Song” after the Flames’ first touchdown.

At the urging of commissioner George Kliavkoff (Law ’93), home teams in the Pac-12 Conference painted the hash marks at the 1-, 15- and 41-yard lines orange in honor of Davis, Chandler and Perry.

“I have a personal connection to Virginia,” Kliavkoff says. “But the deeper connection is the football community.”

James Madison University’s Wilson Hall in UVA colors. Trey Secrist/JMU

The bonds extend to the NFL, where the Washington Commanders donned helmet decals to honor the Virginia players. Former UVA players Juan Thornhill (Col ’18), a safety with the Kansas City Chiefs, and Rodney McLeod (Col ’12), a safety with the Indianapolis Colts, honored the players with illustrations on their cleats. Kenneth Walker, a high school teammate of Chandler who plays for the Seattle Seahawks, paid tribute by putting his friend’s picture and the words “Long Live Devin Chandler” on his cleats. New York Jets coach Robert Saleh wore a Virginia shirt during his weekly press conference.

Beyond football, the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team wore warm-up shirts that said “HokiesForHoos.” A blue and white banner with the same message hung outside Tech’s Cassell Coliseum. Boxer Keyshawn Davis, an Olympic silver medalist from Norfolk, sported the V-Sabres logo and the players’ jersey numbers on his trunks during a fight at Madison Square Garden in December.

The College of William & Mary’s Wren building in UVA colors.
New York Jets coach Robert Saleh shows solidarity with the Cavaliers at his weekly press conference.

Schools also showed their solidarity in other ways. Christopher Newport and Washington and Lee universities held candlelight vigils. James Madison University and the College of William & Mary lit campus buildings in Virginia colors.