Thursday, November 03, 2005

Willis A Finalist

OXFORD — Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Willis was named a semifinalist Wednesday for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to the nation's top college defensive player.Willis is one of 12 candidates for the award that will be presented Dec. 8 on ESPN. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior leads the nation in solo tackles per game, averaging 9.7 stops. He is ninth in the nation in total tackles (12.9 per game). Willis is having a breakout season despite playing through several injuries."It's a blessing (to be considered for the award), and I just thank my coaches, teammates and trainers who have been with me through all of these injuries," Willis said after Wednesday's practice. "A lot of people would hang their head and wait until next season until they're completely healed. But if I had done that, it would have been selfish on my part. I go out and give it my all for my coaches and teammates."
Willis was expecting another dose of good news on Wednesday. He was scheduled to have the broken middle finger on his right hand re-evaluated after practice. Willis has played the past four weeks with a heavily bandaged "club" to protect his hand.He expects to be cleared to play without the bandage when the Rebels (3-5, 1-4 SEC) host Arkansas (2-5, 0-4) on Nov. 12.