Jalen Carter, potential No. 1 NFL draft pick, booked into Georgia jail, vows to be ‘fully exonerated’
Jalen Carter, a former Georgia standout defensive lineman who could be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, was booked into jail late Wednesday night on charges of reckless driving and racing on highways/streets.
Carter was initially in Indianapolis to take part in the NFL Scouting Combine but rushed back to Atlanta where an arrest warrant was issued for his alleged involvement in a crash that killed one of his Georgia teammates and another staff member on the football team. He was booked at 11:33 p.m. ET in the Athens-Clarke County Jail and released at 11:49 p.m. ET.
The 21-year-old released a statement on the issue before going back to Georgia to turn himself in, saying he would be “fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.”
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“This morning I received a telephone call from the Athens, Georgia, police department informing me that two misdemeanor warrants have been issued against me for reckless driving and racing,” Carter’s statement read Wednesday. “Numerous media reports also have circulated this morning containing inaccurate information concerning the tragic events of January 15, 2023. It is my intention to return to Athens to answer the misdemeanor charges against me and to make certain that the complete and accurate truth is presented. There is no question in my mind that when all of the facts are known that I will be fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.”
Carter is accused of racing his 2021 Jeep Trackhawk against the 2021 Ford Expedition driven by recruiting staffer, 24-year-old Chandler LeCroy, which led to the Jan. 15 wreck. The crash occurred just hours after the Bulldogs celebrated their second straight championship with a parade ceremony. Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock was also killed in the crash.
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“The charges announced today are deeply concerning, especially as we are still struggling to cope with the devastating loss of two beloved members of our community,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “We will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities while supporting these families and assessing what we can learn from this horrible tragedy.”
Georgia offensive lineman Warren McClendon, who had just announced plans to enter the NFL Draft, sustained minor injuries in the crash. Georgia football staffer Victoria Bowles was hospitalized with more serious injuries.
Nolan Smith, a former Georgia linebacker, was present at the scouting combine and got emotional when talking about the fatal incident.
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“This is the first time I’m talking about it,” Smith said. “That’s my guy. That’s one person that never did anything wrong. I get sensitive talking about it just because I love him. He never did anything wrong in his three years.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.