"Man, I am just ready to get back out on the field," added Patrick Willis. "It has been a long off-season for many reasons, but now it is time to put all of that behind me and get back to doing what I love doing and that is playing the game of football.
And what an off-season
it has been.
It started off with a career decision to return for his senior
season or take the money and go in the draft. Willis went with his heart, and
head, and decided to come back to Ole Miss to help turn the program around and
also improve his draft status.
"I did not want to leave here on a
losing note like that. We have had a tough past two seasons, and that really did
play a role in my thought process. When I came here, we were all about getting
to bowls and winning them. My freshman year, we finished around the Top 10 and
won the Cotton Bowl. Everybody just assumed that we would continue doing that,
but we hit a bump in the road. I really wanted to be one of the ones that got
things turned back around. That was important to me."
And it is exactly
that type of attitude that will always leave Patrick Willis as one of the sentimental
favorites in Ole Miss history.
"This is just my home. I mean, coming
out of high school, Ole Miss was the first school to start recruiting me and they
never let up. Even when some other big schools tried to commit me in the later
stages of my recruitment, I knew this was the place for me. I would not take away
my experiences here for anything. Ole Miss will always be my home away home. I
will continue to come back here and support this program and university long after
I am gone."
But luckily for Ole Miss fans, the end of the Patrick
Willis era is not quite over.
"I am ready to go now. I just got back
from the doctor on Wednesday, and I have been cleared."
go full contact during the practices leading up to the Memphis game?
sir, I am ready to go. It feels wonderful to be released and be ready to go now.
I know it was devastating for me not to be able to go, especially in the Spring
time, not being able to participate. And not going in the 7 on 7's during the
summer time and now being released to go out there full tilt. I am just excited
to see if I still got a little left in this tank (laugh)."
tired of hearing about "how his foot" is doing?
you get asked the same question over and over and over, yea, it gets old. But
at the same time, you know people just want to know what is going on. Now we are
getting ready for camp and all of those questions can be put to rest for good."
is one thing that Patrick can not hide from his excitement, and that is the "new
bullets" that have been added to his team.
"It was highly anticipating
getting all of these new guys in here. They are so talented. Coach Orgeron is
expecting a lot out of us, and I mean we are expecting a lot out of ourselves.
Like I said, we have been working hard in the off-season getting stronger, bigger,
and faster. Now we are just ready to listen to what Coach Orgeron has to tell
us and put it all together during camp."
Patrick sees big things ahead
from his linebacker group this season.
"I think our LB unit is going
to be better because it is our second year in the system. We have a lot of guys
returning that understand the system now and have a lot more confidence in our
pass rushing and run stopping and just a better understanding of our defense."
much of a confidence boost did the team receive when the number one juco player
in the country, Brent Schaeffer, arrived on campus?
"It is just a
great atmosphere on campus now. We have been waiting for a while for him to get
here. Now that he is here, we are just really excited and ready to be behind him
a 100% and get everybody on the same page. Anytime you get a player of Brent'
caliber on your team, your confidence as a team just shoots straight up. He was
recruited highly, and we know he has a lot of experience. And from day one, we
signed him to be our starting QB. We are going to do what ever we can to help
him feel like this is his team. Today is the first step in coming together as
Lastly, what does Patrick want to see the team accomplish
during his senior season?
"I want to see the team accomplish a lot
of things. I want to see us come together in all phases, special teams, offense
and defense. But first and most, just get back to a winning start...get back to
Ole Miss football...just winning a lot of games...just winning...that is what
it is all about. That is why I came back here, to help us get back to playing
Ole Miss football."
And Mr. P Willie, that is exactly why you will
always carry a special place in the heart of every Ole Miss fan.
Willis says he is 100% back from foot injury
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