Kevin O’Connell, football world ‘heartbroken’ by death of Khyree Jackson

The death of Vikings fourth-round draft pick Khyree Jackson left the football world shocked and saddened on Saturday.

Jackson, a 24-year-old University of Oregon product, was among three victims who died in a car crash in Maryland on Saturday morning.

Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said in a post on X that he was “heartbroken” by the death of the cornerback.

“I am absolutely crushed by this news. Khyree brought a contagious energy to our facility and our team. His confidence and engaging personality immediately drew his teammates to him,” O’Connell added in a statement shared via the Vikings. “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.”

Oregon defensive back Khyree Jackson runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine, Friday, March 1, 2024, in Indianapolis. AP

Jackson, in his one season at Oregon in 2023, shined to become an All-Pac 12 first-team member, but it was his “smile” that stood out to Ducks head coach Dan Lanning.

“RIP Khyree… Love you @Real_Khyree at a loss for words. I will miss your smile. Great player better person,” Lanning wrote in a heartfelt message on X.

Jackson previously had played two seasons for Alabama, which also put out a statement on his death.

Oregon defensive back Khyree Jackson (5) lines up for a play against Texas Tech during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. AP

“Alabama mourns the loss of former student-athlete Khyree Jackson. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,” the school wrote on X.

The other two victims in the crash, Anthony Lytton Jr., 24, and Isaiah Hazel, 23, were former college football players who were teammates of Jackson’s at Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Lytton, a cornerback, played at both Florida State (2018-19) and Penn State (2021) while Hazel, also a defensive back, spent time at Maryland (2019-22) and the University of North Carolina Charlotte (2023).

Charlotte defensive back Isaiah Hazel plays against Georgia State during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. AP

Wise’s athletic department said it was saddened by the loss of the three football players.

“The Dr. Henry A. Wise Athletic Department sends condolences to the families and mourns the loss of Khyree Jackson (State Champ 2016 c/o ’17) Anthony Lytton, Jr. (AJ) (State Champ 2015,16,17 c/o ’18) and Isaiah Hazel (State Champ 2015, 16, 17 c/o ’19),” Wise athletics wrote on X.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore shared his condolences for the three victims.

“Khyree was a true talent who touched so many lives,” he wrote on X. “We mourn him and the two other souls lost in this crash.”

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