2007 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Senator(s) Michel, Tollison, Mettetal, Davis, Chaney, Burton, Frazier, Thames, Pickering, White, Hyde-Smith, Fillingane, Wilemon, Moffatt, Clarke, King, Flowers, Williamson, Nunnelee, Brown, Ross, Lee (35th), Kirby, Hewes, Horhn, Walls, Thomas, Chassaniol, Jackson (11th), Butler, Dearing, Doxey, Gordon, Little, Simmons

Senate Concurrent Resolution 556

(As Adopted by Senate and House)


     WHEREAS, 6'3", 230-pound All-American Senior Linebacker Patrick Willis (No. 49) has dominated opposing offenses and earned his place as the most heralded defensive player in Ole Miss football history; and

     WHEREAS, in a day and age when the average college football player is rarely willing to wait for an opportunity, Senior Linebacker Patrick Willis has displayed an admirable amount of patience throughout his career with the Ole Miss Rebels.  A 2005 All-America selection and candidate for numerous national awards this season, Willis did not make the starting lineup until his Junior year, and then chose to wait for his chance to enter the professional ranks by returning to Ole Miss for his Senior campaign.  It would be hard for anyone to pass up the kind of financial stability that would come from being an early-round draft pick in the National Football League, but Willis did just that, and for a variety of reasons.  "I just wanted to enjoy this Senior year as a student and as a college football player," said the 2006 Chucky Mullins Courage Award recipient.  "I've enjoyed playing with my teammates again.  After not having a healthy season like I wanted to (last year) and also being projected as a third-round draft pick, I felt like I was better than that.  I hope when it's all said and done this year that I can prove that"; and

     WHEREAS, Willis led the Southeastern Conference in tackles for the second-straight season with 137, including 87 solos.  He finished the season ranked sixth in the NCAA in total tackles and third in solo tackles.  In addition, he had three sacks, 11.5 TFLs for minus 44 yards, seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery; and

     WHEREAS, Patrick Willis was named the 2006 Butkus Award winner on Thursday, December 7, 2006, at the Home Depot/ESPN College Football Awards Show.  Willis, a Bruceton, Tennessee native, is the first player from the State of Mississippi to take home the award honoring the nation's top linebacker.  The Butkus Award carries the name and support of one of the greatest middle linebackers in football history, Dick Butkus.  "I would like to thank my Head Coach Ed Orgeron, my foster parents, Chris and Julie Finley, my teammates and the entire Ole Miss family for supporting me throughout my career," said Willis, who became only the second player from the SEC to win the award.  Willis was also recognized as a member of the 2006 Walter Camp All-America Team at the awards show; and

     WHEREAS, Patrick Willis picked up another National Award on Monday, December 18, 2006, when he was named the recipient of the Jack Lambert Award, which is presented by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio, to college football's Top Linebacker.  The Lambert Award is named for Pittsburgh Steelers great and Pro Football Hall of Fame Linebacker Jack Lambert; and

     WHEREAS, Willis also picked up another first team All-America honor when he was recognized by ESPN.com.  He had previously been honored with First Team All-America status this year by The Associated Press, the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Sporting News, the Football Writers' Association of America, Pro Football Weekly, the Gridiron Gazette, SI.com, CBSSportsline.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com; and

     WHEREAS, by being named to a majority of the major All-America squads, Willis becomes the first consensus All-American at Ole Miss since Rebel tight end Rufus French in 1998.  Willis has now been selected First Team All-American by 11 different publications and/or organizations, joining three other Ole Miss players to have earned first team honors on 11 different All-America squads:  End Barney Poole in 1947; Fullback Charlie Flowers in 1959; and Tackle Jim Dunaway in 1962.  Quarterback Jake Gibbs is the most honored Ole Miss player when it comes to being named first team All-American, having been selected to 12 different teams in 1960; and

     WHEREAS, the Bruceton, Tennessee native was previously honored as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by both The Associated Press and the league coaches.  Willis joins former Rebels Parker Hall (1938), Barney Poole (1948), Kline Gilbert (1952), Crawford Mims (1953), Rex Reed Boggan (1954), Charlie Flowers (1959), Jake Gibbs (1960), Allen Brown (1964), Wesley Walls (1988), Everett Lindsay (1992) and Rufus French (1998), as The Associated Press All-America picks; and

     WHEREAS, he picked up his first award of the 2006 season on Wednesday, November 29, 2006, when he won the Conerly Trophy, given to the best college football player in the state.  The winner of the Conerly Trophy, named for former Quarterback Charlie Conerly, a Clarksdale, Mississippi native who starred for Ole Miss and the New York Giants, is awarded by a panel of 60 Mississippi media representatives; and

     WHEREAS, not only has Willis continued to be an all-star performer individually, he has relished the opportunity to lead the team as one of two permanent team captains, along with Offensive Lineman Andrew Wicker; and

     WHEREAS, one of the main factors in Willis' decision to return was to earn his college degree.  He is currently on track to graduate in May 2007 with a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice.  While so many modern-day athletes jump at the chance for instant glory, Willis has worked on securing a solid background of learning about life and football.  His difficult childhood has been well documented, but Patrick Willis has admirably not used that as an excuse to forego a college degree; and

     WHEREAS, whether he will use his physical tools as a speedy linebacker in the NFL, or he will use his college degree and enthusiasm for community service to contribute as an everyday citizen, or both, Patrick Willis is an exceptional graduate of the University of Mississippi and Ole Miss Football, and it is with great pride that we recognize the accolades of this student athlete who brought honor to his university, his career and to the State of Mississippi:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend the outstanding career of Ole Miss Senior Linebacker Patrick Willis, congratulate him for his many national awards and extend to him and his family our best wishes for a successful career in professional football and in his future endeavors.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to Patrick Willis and forwarded to Head Football Coach Ed Orgeron and Chancellor Robert Khayat and be made available to the Capitol Press Corps.