NEW YORK (Ole Miss Athletics) Former Ole Miss All-America linebacker Patrick Willis was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday night in a ceremony in New York City.
Willis is the 10th former player or coach to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as an Ole Miss Rebel. Two other members of the Ole Miss family have also been enshrined in the hall.
Willis, a four-year letterwinner for the Rebels from 2003 to 2006, is one of the most decorated defensive players in Ole Miss football history. As a senior, he was a consensus All-American in 2006 when he won the Butkus Award and Lambert Trophy as the nation’s best linebacker.
He twice led the Southeastern Conference in tackles and was selected to the most first team All-American squads (13) ever by a Rebel player in a single season. A first team All-American in 2005 and 2006, he was also a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
The senior team captain ranks sixth all-time at Ole Miss with 355 career tackles, and he is tied for fifth with 33 career tackles for loss. Willis was the recipient of the 2006 Conerly Trophy as the best college football player in the state of Mississippi and the Ole Miss Chucky Mullins Courage Award. The Bruceton, Tennessee, native ended his collegiate career as the Defensive MVP for the South Team in the 2007 Senior Bowl.
Willis matched his on-field success in the classroom, earning Academic All-SEC honors and receiving the 2007 Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award. A 2015 inductee into the Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame, he was selected to SI.com’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
The 11th overall selection of the 2007 NFL draft, Willis won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year during his debut season with the San Francisco 49ers. Willis went on to enjoy an eight-year NFL career in which he made seven Pro Bowls and was voted All-Pro five times.
One of the best defensive players of his era, Willis finished his NFL career with 950 combined tackles (732 solo, 218 assists), 20.5 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, five fumbles recovered, eight interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.
The 2019 Hall of Fame Class was selected from the national ballot of 76 All-America players and six elite coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and the 100 players and 32 coaches from the divisional ranks.