Tennessee Titans rookie linebacker Jonathan Willard probably didn’t expect to wake up this morning and be lauded as a hero, but that’s exactly what he deserves after helping rescue a family and their dog from a burning car. The Clemson product was en route from South Carolina to the Titans training camp headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., when he came across a car billowing thick black smoke while driving down I-40. Willard sped up alongside the vehicle and frantically tried getting the female driver’s attention by honking his horn and flashing his lights. Eventually he was able to get the woman to pull over, and Willard and another motorist helped get the driver, the three children and the dog from the car before it was totally engulfed in flames.
“When she pulled over, the car was really on fire at that point,” Willard said. “The driver, she acted like she was in some kind of daze or something. She told me that she didn’t stop because she didn’t think it was her car that was on fire. Another guy stopped, and we managed to get the kids and the dog out and get them to safety, and then I finally got the woman out.”
By that time, the car was fully enveloped in flames.
“I was just glad that we got the kids and all of them out of the car,” he said. “I was thinking that I was just doing what everybody else would do, but there were cars just going past us and no one else was stopping, so I don’t know if that is what would happen or not.”
“She just kept thanking me,” Willard said. “That car was just gone. It went up quick.”
Here’s a picture of the car Willard took shortly after the rescue…
Good job, good effort from Willard, who was an undrafted free agent signing by Tennessee following a very productive final season at Clemson (85 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and five passes defended). If he shows the same type of heady decision making during training camp as he did in this situation there’s a good chance he could find himself on the Titan’s opening day roster.