Patrick Willis Inducted Into Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024
PRESS RELEASE (Ole Miss Athletics)- Ole Miss football legend Patrick Willis cemented his legacy as one of the best to ever play the game after being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024, as announced at NFL Honors on Thursday night.
Willis is just the third Rebel to ever enter the hallowed halls of Canton, joining Bruiser Kinard (1970) and Gene Hickerson (2007). Willis and Kinard are in even more exclusive company as the lone two Rebels to now be part of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame, with Willis inducted in 2019 and Kinard in 1951.
A four-year letterwinner for the Rebels from 2003 to 2006, Willis is one of the most decorated defensive players in Ole Miss football history. He was a consensus All-American as a senior in 2006, when he also 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 sixth 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 was also the 2006 recipient of 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.