Willie remains upbeat

If personality were an official statistic, let's say kept in terms of smiles, ASU senior wide receiver Mike Willie would not only be leading his team, but he'd probably be leading the entire FBS.

It's tough to catch Mike Willie in a moment where he isn't sporting that mischievous grin of his, but fortunately for the Sun Devils it's equally as tough to catch him not doing his job on the football field, whatever that may be.

However, through the first four games of the year Willie has totaled just 10 catches for 136 yards, not exactly Biletnikoff award winning numbers. Yet, his performance has increased each week and while they may not look like eye-popping numbers, his four catches for 44 yards in the Sun Devils 43-22 win over the Trojans of USC went a long way to securing the victory.

Two of those catches took place in the 4th quarter and those hauls of went for 12 yards and 19 yards and both resulted in first downs on a late scoring drive.

"I just came to play," Willie said of his performance. "I was ready to play, and beat SC, that's it. It was a big win. Growing up there and liking SC, it was a great win. We should've won last year too, so it's payback."

Confidence has never been an issue for Willie who will be the first to tell you that if the ball is thrown at him, it doesn't matter who is on him or how well he is being guarded, he's coming down with it. That confidence has helped the senior not get discouraged even though he hasn't gotten as many looks as he would liked so far this season.

"It would be hard for some receivers," Willie pointed out. "But these are my brothers and we're winning and we've got a goal in mind, so I'm not trippin'. It's not a one-man team. I'm going to do my job, I'm going to block, get my guys open, and whoever gets the ball I'm going to block for them and If I get the ball I'm going to do my job with the ball.

"I don't care who get's the ball, as long as we're winning, we're all good."

Willie has drawn a lot of praise from his coaches and fellow teammates for his blocking, something that usually goes unnoticed about receivers, unless of course you're Hines Ward. Nonetheless, if you take the time to watch him when he doesn't get the ball and you'll see what all the praise is about.

"It's pretty fun because DB's are too small and I think no DB can mess with me so I just smash them to the ground," Willie said of his blocking. I was a defensive player at one time so I feel like I'll smack anything in front of me.

"If a DB gets in front of me that's too small I'm going to take it out on him. It's not his fault; I'm just trying to do my job really. It's flipping the script on them and they're like ‘hold up, I don't want to get in his face,' so it takes a little pressure off me."

Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler realizes Willie's importance in the passing game, but even he made it a point to mention how good the 6'4" 211-pound receiver is supporting the ground attack.

"I don't think he gets enough credit for what he does in our run game," Osweiler pointed out. "If anyone ever watches film, he'll take cornerbacks and put them flat on their back play after play. He flat out dominates guys at the line of scrimmage.

"Mike's a great asset to this team, he's a fun guy to be around, he brings a lot of energy to the room and he is a great wide receiver as he showed Saturday night (versus USC)."

Aiding that aggressive mentality of his is wide receivers coach Steve Broussard who was a pretty good player in his own right having played running back in the NFL. Broussard has been known to get fired up from time to time, but according to Willie, that's just fine.

"He's pretty aggressive too and I have an aggressive mind, so it goes hand in hand," Willie said of his coach. "He gets me going sometimes and I start smacking everybody in the mouth so we're just hyper together."

Though he has yet to score a touchdown this season, ask Willie when it's going to happen and he will tell you the next time he touches the ball, still, nothing is more important than getting the win next week against the 0-3 Oregon State Beavers, a game that many think will be a ‘trap game' for the Devils.

"I think it is the week," Willie predicted. "But only God knows, and the ball will come when it comes and I'm going to catch it, so hopefully this week but we have to get this win.

"We're just looking at the 1-0 mentality. We're just trying to get a win, so all that stuff, 0-3, or whatever their record is, it doesn't matter, and we're just trying to be 1-0 against them."


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