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Former Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Willis named to Pro Football Hall of Fame

Patrick Willis Ole Miss
Patrick Willis was a four-year letter winner for Ole Miss from 2003 to 2006 (Photo courtesy of UM Athletics)

Nearly nine years since his retirement, former Ole Miss and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis is heading to Canton, Ohio as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

On Thursday night, Willis was announced as part of the Hall of Fame’s 2024 class following a storied career as one of the best defensive players during his era. He joins Bruiser Kinard and Gene Hickerson in representing the Rebels among the most stellar players in professional football history.

The 11th overall selection of the 2007 NFL Draft, Willis won Defensive Rookie of the Year during his debut season with the 49ers — where he spent all eight years of his professional career. Willis went on to appear in seven Pro Bowls and was voted All-Pro five times. He was also featured in the 2013 Super Bowl where San Fransisco ultimately came up just short.

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.

During his college days in Oxford, Willis was a consensus All-American as a senior in 2006 and won the Butkus Award and Lambert Trophy as the nation’s best linebacker.

He twice led the SEC 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 star linebacker recorded 355 career tackles, 33 of them for a 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.

Willis was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2019. He will receive his honorary gold jacket as an official Pro Hall of Famer on August 3.

Below are the members of the 2024 class:

  • Dwight Freeney
  • Devin Hester
  • Andre Johnson
  • Julius Peppers
  • Patrick Willis
  • Randy Gradishar (senior)
  • Steve McMichael (senior)

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