Minnesota Vikings cornerback Khyri Jackson dies in Maryland car crash

Three former high school state champion football players from Prince George's County — one of whom was recently drafted into the NFL — were killed early Saturday when a speeding and possibly drunk driver struck their car in Upper Marlboro, Maryland State Police said.

Those killed included Minnesota Vikings freshman Khayree Jackson, 24, and his former teammates Anthony Litton Jr., 24, and Isaiah Hazell, 23. They attended Wise High School in Upper Marlboro before playing Division 1-A college football. Jackson completed his college career at the University of Oregon and was selected in the fourth round by Minnesota in April.

All three players played for coach Dallon Parrish and won multiple state championships as Parrish built a dynasty at Wise, winning 43 straight games and three state titles from 2015 to 2018. When Parrish stepped down in January after winning six titles, Jackson, Litton and Hazell all showed up at a surprise party for the departing coach, Parrish said Saturday.

“Great young men,” Parrish said. “Hard working, very caring. Those three will always be a part of my life. As they told me I helped them grow, these young men helped me grow as a coach and as a human being. I will always miss them, always love them, at least I'm glad they were together in the end.”

“I am absolutely devastated by this news,” Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “Khiry brought an infectious energy to our facility and our team… My thoughts are with Khiry’s family, friends, teammates, and coaches.”

The accident happened at 3:14 a.m. on northbound Route 4 near Presidential Parkway. Police said all three people were in a Dodge Charger, driven by Hazel. The Charger and another car were hit by an Infiniti Q50, which was changing lanes at a high speed.

Police said the Charger left Route 4 and struck several tree trunks before coming to a stop. Police declined to say whether the three were wearing seat belts. The driver of the Infiniti, identified by police as a woman from Upper Marlboro, and her two passengers were uninjured. The driver of the other car was also unhurt.

Jackson and Hazel were pronounced dead at the scene, and Litton was taken to a hospital where he later died.

State police said investigators believe alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. No charges were filed Saturday.

Litton played collegiately at Florida State University and Penn State, and Hazell played at the University of Maryland and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Jackson had a bumpy college journey, playing at two small colleges and taking a year off from football.

In a video on X, Jackson talked about how he was working in the deli department of a Harris Teeter grocery store, saying he had won “Employee of the Month” and “I wasn't really thinking about football too much.” Jackson said he tried to become a pro by playing the NBA 2K video game, and “I would definitely say football was a little blurry for a second.”

When asked why he returned to football, Jackson said, “Two of my closest friends, they were four and five star [recruits]”They were both D-1. They inspired me,” Jackson said.

Jackson returned to football and eventually enrolled at Alabama, where he played cornerback for two seasons and appeared in the national championship game. He transferred to Oregon for his senior year and became the 108th player selected in the draft.

In an Instagram post in April, just two days before the NFL Draft, Jackson wrote, “Looking at Zay and A.J. [Hazel and Lytton] go D1 was my ultimate inspiration, they pushed me to be better, I can’t thank them enough.”

At Wise, all three players were two-way stars, providing highlights on both offense and defense. They contributed to a 43-game winning streak for the Prince George's County program that spanned several seasons and included three consecutive state titles.

Litton was named the All-Met Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 as he spent his senior season as the backfield anchor of a dominant defense. He began his college career at Florida State and played two seasons there before transferring to Penn State. His family could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hazell, another standout player at wide receiver and cornerback, moved to U-Md. He had switched his commitment from West Virginia, giving the hometown Terps more momentum with local recruiting. He played four seasons there before transferring to UNC-Charlotte for his final year of eligibility, where he started eight games and finished sixth on the team in tackles.

“He was a good young man and he's going to heaven,” said Hazel's grandmother, Edith S. Hazel. She said Hazel graduated with honors from U-Md. in 2022 but was determined to play pro football even after going undrafted. He was the youngest of three children and his older brother is a police officer in Prince George's, his grandmother said.

Jackson began his high school career at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring before transferring to Wise midway through his sophomore year. A broken collarbone forced Jackson to miss his junior season with the Pumas and ended his recruiting hopes.

“I couldn't dwell on the situation too much,” Jackson told The Washington Post in 2016. “I just had to get better and come back.”

He had a strong senior season as a wide receiver, making 39 catches for 612 yards and 12 touchdowns while also playing defensive back.

Despite these stats, Jackson received little interest in college. He took a year off from football before enrolling at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. From there he moved up the collegiate ranks, transferring to the University of Alabama and then the University of Oregon. In Eugene, he established himself as a defensive star and a definite NFL draft prospect.

“RIP Khyri … love you but have no words. I'll miss your smile. Great player, even better person,” Jackson's college coach at Oregon, Dan Lanning, wrote on the post.

“In the short time we spent together, it was clear that Khairi was going to be a great professional football player, but what was even more impressive was his desire to be the best person he could be for his family and those around him. I have no words to express how wonderful he is,” Vikings coach O'Connell wrote on X.

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