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For the judge, see Patrick Willis (judge).
Patrick Willis

Willis on the field prior to a game against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 12, 2008
No. 52     San Francisco 49ers
Linebacker
Personal information
Date of birth: January 25, 1985 (1985-01-25) (age 25)
Place of birth: Bruceton, Tennessee
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) Weight: 240 lb (109 kg)
Career information
College: Mississippi
NFL Draft: 2007 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11
Debuted in 2007 for the San Francisco 49ers
Career history
 As player:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2009
Tackles     453
Sacks     9.0
Interceptions     4
Stats at NFL.com

Patrick L. Willis (born January 26, 1985 in Bruceton, Tennessee) is an American football linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers 11th overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. He played college football at Mississippi. Willis was given the nickname "Bam-Bam" by Chad Ochocinco because "he hits everything".[1]

During Willis' senior season at Ole Miss, he won the 2006 Butkus Award and the Jack Lambert Award as the nation’s top linebacker. A year later during his rookie season with the 49ers, Willis led the NFL in tackles, earned First Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors and was named the 2007 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Willis has earned Pro Bowl and All Pro honors all three years he has played in the NFL.[2] Patrick Willis is the only player to receive the Butkus Award for best linebacker in more than one category. He won the college Butkus Award in 2006 while at Ole Miss. In 2009, he won the professional Butkus Award while with the San Francisco 49ers.[3]

Contents

College career

Patrick leads by example. He is not a big talker. He just gets in there and does his job every day and makes everybody around him better.

—former Mississippi coach Ed Orgeron.[4]

As a freshman at Ole Miss, Willis played in all 13 games, making 20 stops. He received the Scholar-Athlete Award from the Ole Miss Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.

As a sophomore in 2004, he appeared in 10 of 11 games and earned honorable mention All-SEC honors from The Associated Press. He recorded 70 tackles (54 solo), led team with 11.0 TFLs and five sacks.

In Willis' 2005 junior campaign, he led the SEC in total tackles at 12.80 per game, which placed him sixth nationally. He finished season with 128 total tackles, 9.5 TFLs, three sacks, an interception , two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Willis was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year by CollegeFootballNews.com and Scout.com. He was also named First Team All-American by CollegeFootballNews.com and the All-American Football Foundation. Willis earned First Team All-SEC honors from Associated Press, SEC Coaches, CollegeFootballNews.com and Rivals.com.

During Willis' last collegiate year in 2006, he led the SEC in tackles once again with 11.4 per game and collected 137 tackles, 11.5 TFLs, seven passes defended, three sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He was awarded SEC Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All-SEC, and consensus First Team All-American. He was the winner of the Jack Lambert Award and the prestigious Dick Butkus Award, given to the most outstanding linebacker in college football. He also won the Conerly Trophy, voted upon by the media in Mississippi and awarded to the best college football player in Mississippi. He was also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award and semifinalist for both the Rotary Lombardi Award and the Lott Trophy. [5]

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Awards and Honors

Professional career

I've coached two of the greatest linebackers — one that has already proven to be one of the greatest and one who will prove to be.

—49ers' coach Mike Singletary, referring to Ray Lewis and Patrick Willis.[6]

2007 NFL Draft

At the 2007 NFL Combine at RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana, Willis further impressed scouts with his performance; his 4.49 40-yard dash (done on a partially torn ACL) was one of the fastest among linebackers. He also posted a 39-inch vertical jump and recorded 22 repetitions of the 225-lb. bench press. Willis clocked 4.37 seconds for 40 yards during his University of Mississippi pro-day workout.[7] Analysts of The Sporting News compared him to Jeremiah Trotter.[8] Willis also earned South Team Defensive MVP honors at the 2007 Senior Bowl.

Willis was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the 11th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, re-uniting him with the staff that coached his South Squad at the 2007 Senior Bowl. He signed a five-year, $16.7 million contract with the 49ers.[9] Willis was coached directly by Hall of Fame middle-linebacker/coach Mike Singletary (who later became 49ers head coach), and eventually started at inside linebacker, specifically the "Mike" position, in the 49ers' 3-4 defense.

Pre-draft measurements*
Ht Wt 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20 ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
6-1¼ * 242 lb * 4.49 * 1.53 * 2.62 * 4.46 * 7.23 * 39″ * 9′11″ * 22 * 12 *

(* represents 2007 NFL Combine)

2007 NFL season

In his first NFL game, Willis recorded 11 tackles, including 9 solo, and a forced fumble as the 49ers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in dramatic fashion by a score of 20-17. For his effort, he won the Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Week Award. One of Willis' strongest performances came against the Minnesota Vikings, as he led the 49ers defense in containing Offensive Rookie of the Year Adrian Peterson, who managed just 3 yards on 14 carries. "I got hit pretty hard and glad that [Willis] is on the NFC team in the Pro Bowl", Peterson stated in the post-game press conference. Willis' most impressive statistical performance came in week 16 at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In this game he recorded 20 total tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 1 pass deflected in a 21-19 victory, earning Rookie of the Week honors for the fourth time. In addition to receiving the award in weeks 1 and 16, Willis took home the award in weeks 2 and 12. He was also awarded the GMC Defensive player of the Week twice.

In a game against the Arizona Cardinals on November 25, Willis ran down wide receiver Sean Morey after a 62-yard, catch-and-run for the game-saving tackle in overtime. The Niners eventually won 37-31.[6]

Willis finished the 2007 campaign with an NFL-leading 174 total tackles, along with 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 5 passes deflected. As a result, Willis was one of two 49ers selected to the Pro Bowl along with punter Andy Lee. Other honors earned at the conclusion of his first professional season included being named AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, First Team All-Pro by the Associated Press and the 2007 NFL Alumni Linebacker Of The Year which is chosen by past NFL ALUMNI professional players. He was the only rookie in the NFL to make the AP All-Pro squad and the first Defensive Rookie from the 49ers to make the Pro Bowl since Ronnie Lott in 1981. His season was capped by being named one of ESPN The Magazine's "NEXT" athletes of 2008, alongside Yankee Joba Chamberlain and Trail Blazer Brandon Roy.

He ended his rookie season with 174 tackles, 4.0 quarterback sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 7.0 tackles at a loss, and 5 Passes Defended. According to the 49ers, however, he is unofficially credited with over 200 tackles during that season.

Willis is sponsored by Under Armour and is featured in many of the company's advertisements.[citation needed]

Games Comb Tackles Ast Sacks PDef INT TD YDS FF
16 174 135 39 4.0 5 - - - 2

Patrick Willis' statistics in 2007

2008 NFL season

In his second NFL season he scored his first career NFL touchdown, on an 86 yard return of an interception, off a deflection. Willis was ranked 2nd in the NFL for tackles that year.

On December 16, during another dominating season with the 49ers, Patrick Willis was named the starting inside linebacker for the NFC Pro Bowl team. In just two seasons, he has established himself as one of the top linebackers in the NFL.[10]

At the end of the year, Patrick Willis was voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, this time as a starter. He was also voted Second Team All-Pro, barely missing the first team as Jon Beason of Carolina Panthers collected one more vote than Willis.

Games Comb Tackles Ast Sacks PDef INT TD YDS FF
16 141 109 32 1.0 10 1 1 86 1

Patrick Willis' statistics in 2008

2009 NFL season

Patrick Willis started the season strong in the opener against the Arizona Cardinals. He recorded 14 tackles and an interception in a 20-16 win in Arizona. He also had a huge game in week 4 against St. Louis finishing with 8 tackles, 2.5 sacks. Willis also intercepted Kyle Boller for a 23 yard touchdown return, the second defensive touchdown of his career.

The biggest improvement in his game from last year was the increased sideline-to-sideline range. Willis made 54 tackles on plays labeled as “Wide left” or “Wide right” which accounted for 35.5% of his total tackles. In that area, he led all inside linebackers by a large margin. He was also the league leader in impact plays with a total of 27. [11]

By the end of the year, Willis has accumulated an NFL-leading 152 tackles along with 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 8 pass deflections and 3 interceptions. He has now led the league in tackles in two of his first three seasons. Patrick Willis also earned First Team All-Pro receiving 49/50 votes from the AP and was voted to his third consecutive Pro Bowl. He becomes the first 49ers player to make it to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons since Ronnie Lott kicked off his career with four straight appearances starting in 1981. However, shortly before the Pro-Bowl, which was set in South Florida, Willis decided to play it safe and opted not to play due to a leg injury he sustained. Willis stayed in South Florida for the game and stood on the sideline in support of the NFC team and 49er teammates Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Justin Smith and Andy Lee. [12]

Patrick Willis was named the 2009 NFL Alumni Linebacker Of The Year, chosen by past NFL ALUMNI professional players, who chose according to the position in which they played.[13] Willis also became the second NFL player to win the Butkus Award since they started giving it out to a high school linebacker and a NFL linebacker in 2008. He is the first linebacker to win the prestigious award both in college and in the pros. DeMarcus Ware received the the award last year.

Games Comb Tackles Ast Sacks PDef INT TD YDS FF
16 152 114 38 4.0 8 3 1 33 3

Patrick Willis' statistics in 2009

References

  1. ^ http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/10560167
  2. ^ The ClarionLedger: Patrick Willis named AP's top defensive rookie
  3. ^ OleMissSports.com: Willis Wins Butkus Award As Collegian And Pro
  4. ^ Colston, Chris (17 March 2007). "Hardship toughened Willis for NFL's rigors". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/draft/2007-03-14-patrick-willis_N.htm. 
  5. ^ http://www.olemisssports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=12787&SPID=737&DB_OEM_ID=2600&ATCLID=542726&Q_SEASON=2006&KEY=&DB_OEM_ID=2600&DB_LANG=&IN_SUBSCRIBER_CONTENT=
  6. ^ a b Corbett, Jim (6 September 2008). "49ers' Willis on way to top of NFL's linebackers corps". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/niners/2008-09-06-willis_N.htm. 
  7. ^ Corbett, Jim (September 6, 2008), "49ers' Willis on way to top of NFL's linebackers corps", USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/niners/2008-09-06-willis_N.htm 
  8. ^ "Pro Football War Room: Patrick Willis", SportingNews.com, April 29, 2007, http://warroom.sportingnews.com/nfl/draft/2007/players/6895.html 
  9. ^ Trotter, Jim (10 October 2007). "NFL Rookies: Patrick Willis, MLB, 49ers". Sports Illustrated. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/football/nfl/10/10/rookie.willis/. 
  10. ^ http://www.nfl.com/probowl/story?id=09000d5d80d60467&template=without-video-with-comments&confirm=true
  11. ^ http://www.footballsfuture.com/nfl/2009/allpro.html
  12. ^ http://www.ninersnation.com/2009/12/29/1224534/49ers-lb-patrick-willis-te-vernon?ref=yahoo
  13. ^ http://www.nflalumni.org/NewsDetail.aspx?Page=1

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Paul Posluszny
Butkus Award Winner
2006
Succeeded by
James Laurinaitis
Preceded by
A.J. Hawk
Jack Lambert Award Winner
2006
Succeeded by
James Laurinaitis
Preceded by
Jerious Norwood
Conerly Trophy Winner
2006
Succeeded by
Damion Fletcher
Preceded by
DeMeco Ryans
AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
2007
Succeeded by
Jerod Mayo

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