Georgia place kicker Jack Podlesny has been a supportive figure for his teammates at UGA, including Warren McClendon at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Jason Getz /

Georgia two-time national champion Jack Podlesny showing true leadership at Senior Bowl along with his strong and accurate leg

MOBILE, Ala. — Jack Podlesny knew there was a higher power at work when learning Warren McClendon would be his roommate this week at the Senior Bowl.

“Normally, the specialists get paired up with quarterbacks, but I’ve gotten paired up with Warren,” said Podlesny, a first-team All-SEC pick and one of the most accurate kickers in Georgia history.

“For me, that’s just something that happened for a reason, for me to be there for him.”

Podlesny felt an immediate urge to help when first hearing about the tragic Jan. 15 crash that killed recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy and Devin Willock, and left UGA staffer Tory Bowles hospitalized in serious but stable condition.

“At that point, it was, who can I reach out to? Who can I check in on?” said Podlesny, who had left Athens before learning the sad news.

“You have to try to be there for your teammates, because everyone goes through this experience differently, and you don’t know what they are experiencing.”

Podlesny’s compassion is evidence of the “connectedness” Coach Kirby Smart stresses in his two-time national championship program.

As much as it has helped the Bulldogs win games on the field, Kenny McIntosh, Chris Smith and Podlesny — true team leaders — have shown how those principles carry over off the field this week. Each one of those players have supported McClendon in their own ways leading up to the 2:30 p.m. game on Saturday.

RELATED: Kenny McIntosh shines at Senior Bowl, shares thoughts on Todd Monken

It has been well-documented that McClendon was in the passenger seat of the Ford Expedition carrying LeCroy, Willock and Bowles the night of the accident, miraculously walking away from the crash.

There’s plenty of film on McClendon, a first-team All-SEC pick who led last year’s team with 37 starts.

But McClendon, a strong-willed sort going back to his Freshman All-American season, chose to get back on the football field to show NFL teams his passion for the sport and willingness to do whatever it takes to continue his career.

There is no doubt NFL personnel have noted McClendon’s strong character as well as his talents throughout the week.

McClendon surprised many when he chose to speak after the first practice on Tuesday, likely aware the teams would be asking him about the tragic accident during interviews this week.

At some point, McClendon knew, he would have to speak publicly about it.

Media members who are covering the event in Mobile spoke with McClendon before the interview was taped, making sure he wanted to speak in front of the cameras.

McClendon, who is wearing the No. 77 once adorned by Willock, revealed he was knocked out and didn’t remember much about the accident. He also said he’s honoring Willock in the Senior Bowl on Saturday because “if he was still here, he would want me to come out here and give it my all.”

RELATED: Georgia captain Chris Smith is all over the field at the Senior Bowl

Podlesny shared how he felt McClendon has been very deliberate in speaking about the tragic event.

“I think it’s definitely what he feels comfortable with,” Podlesny said.

“Maybe he doesn’t dive into all of it, but there are some parts that have been healthy for him to get off his chest,” Podlesny said.

“Without a doubt, that will be part of the NFL process to ask him how he’s dealing with it and what’s going on with him.”

Podlesny, like McClendon, has had a strong Senior Bowl week, showing off his strong and accurate leg each day.

A late addition to the Senior Bowl, Podlesny said that in addition to having a chance to support a Georgia teammate, the event has offered him a chance to meet with NFL teams.

“Jim Nagy called me and said, ‘do you want to wear that Georgia helmet one more time?’ And I was like, ‘Heck yes, I want to play with my brothers and teammates again,” Podlesny said.

“It has been awesome, a surreal experience getting to talk to scouts and kick in front of the teams. We have team meetings, special teams meetings, the whole nine yards, just like at Georgia.”

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