Patrick Willis

Ole Miss Mike Linebacker Patrick Willis gets media requests constantly. It's Eli Manning-ish. But the All-American handles the press chores with the same aplomb, grace and patience as Eli did. Read his latest thoughts on the Rebel inside.

Ole Miss Mike Linebacker Patrick Willis shows as much patience with the media as he shows intensity and abandon on the football field.

The media that covers Ole Miss athletics regularly requests P-Willie's time, he always consents and he always does his best to answer our questions, even when they are repetitive.

Patrick, with his usual good nature, sat down with the press yesterday and discussed a myriad of Reb football topics.

First and foremost, we wanted to know how the preseason camp has gone for him - to this point.

"It's been hot," he laughed. "But it's been fun. We are all getting anxious because we are getting closer and closer to the season. We're having fun out there with one another."

Patrick, as has been documented, is not practicing every day coming off offseason foot surgery and rehab.

"Everything is going good. There are times when the coaches and trainers tell me they don't want me to practice. It's all a part of their plan to make sure I'm OK for the season and I agree with it," P-Willie noted. "It's frustrating because I love being out there, but I've got to be smart about this situation and trust the people in charge. That's why we have coaches and trainers.

"As far as my foot goes, it gets sore sometimes, but that's nothing. It's like the soreness you get after lifting weights. You just fight through the soreness for a few minutes and everything is fine."

With no reps in spring and limited reps in fall camp, has he been able to stay sharp mentally and physically? Yes and no.

"For the most part, I feel sharp, but I am rusty on a few things. It's all coming back to me more and more, but I'm not as sharp as I would be if I were practicing every day," he explained.

Willis is a keen observer when he's not on the field. He absorbs everything. So we started with his linebacker mates who flank him in the Reb defense - Garry Pack and Quentin Taylor.

"I see two guys who are out there practicing hard. Both of them have shown consistency in this camp and both have their minds right for the season," said Willis. "I think we will all be ready when the games crank up September 3. Garry is a veteran and Quentin has had a good camp. I feel good about both of them.

"The coaches tried Garry at Will for a couple of days, but switched him back to Sam and I think he's more comfortable there. He calls it his home. I think we all understand the defense more and understand what we are seeing on the other side of the ball. We are all more comfortable. It feels great to be out there with those guys because we all know we have each other's back."

P-Willie was glad to see the newest addition to the Rebel linebacking corps - Rory Johnson - join the team.

"I enjoyed watching him run around and flying to the ball. That's what we want to see on defense," he continued. "He will definitely be an asset to us, and I think he will be an asset in a hurry."

Patrick is appreciative of the guys in front of him - the DL - and the guys behind him - the secondary.

"I know there are concerns about the defensive line with our fans, but I am very comfortable with those guys. They don't have as much experience as last year's line, but I trust them and have no concerns that I'm going to have to help them do their jobs," Willis added. "I also know the guys behind me are going to come with their 'A' game.

"We have two weeks to put the polish on the wood and that's what we are working on now. I practice with the DL every day and seeing how hard they work, I know they are going to get the job done and will surprise some people. You can feel it and see it when you are behind them. There's also a great comfort knowing the guys in the secondary are going to take care of their business. I don't have to worry about shading in their direction because I know they are going to hold up their end of the bargain back there."

He said he draws inspiration from the safeties in the secondary.

"To see Jamarca (Sanford) flying around out there and see Charles (Clark) directing traffic, and the young guys that are developing and B. Brown - I love playing with those guys. They keep everything light and fun," he said. "And I think this will be a breakout year for Jamarca because he knows more about the defense this year. He told me last year if it wasn't for Charles he would have been lost. Now, he's got it and is not hesitating. He's starting to understand formations and showing more and more confidence in his assignments.

"Jamarca jabbers a lot, but it's motivational, not trash talking. He lets everyone know he's there to play and it motivates all of us."

Willis is also excited about what he's seen from the offense.

"We have some weapons out there. We have some playmakers. I know they are searching for some consistency, and that will come with experience, but I know we are in good hands in terms of the style of offense they want to play, how hard they are working, the playmakers, the quarterbacks, the running backs and the offensive line is improving a lot," he ended. "Going against guys like John Jerry and Andrew Wicker and the rest of them is a full day's work. They come at you and don't back off."

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