Since 1893, Ole Miss has seen many fantastic players take the field for the Rebels. If YOU were to pick four gridiron greats from the past 124 years to place on the Mount Rushmore of Ole Miss football, which players would you choose?
With so many talented athletes who have donned the Ole Miss jersey, there will always be discussions about who is the best. Let's face it; there are SO MANY who are deserving of recognition for their time in the Red and Blue.
On the following slides, I've made my selections. Keep in mind, I'm not a seasoned expert. I am a 19-year-old freshman at Ole Miss majoring in Integrated Marketing and Communications. I've been an intern with The Rebel Walk for a year now--but I've been an Ole Miss fan all my life.
I truly look forward to having this discussion with my fellow Rebels'. At the end of this article, please comment or follow the link to the Twitter poll to let us know which players YOU would select.
We have 117 days left before the season-opener against Texas Tech, and you just never know....one of the players on the 2018 team may one day find himself on a future Mount Rushmore of Ole Miss football.
No. 4: Patrick Willis, Linebacker (2003-2006)
In three short years as a starter for the Rebels, Patrick Willis became the most decorated Rebel defensive player in history.
The Mike linebacker, who hails from Bruceton, Tennessee, played in all 13 games as a freshman and made 20 tackles. In 2004, his sophomore year, he appeared in 10 of 11 games. That season, he was an honorable mention for the All-SEC team. He finished with 70 tackles, 54 solo tackles, and a team-leading 11.0 tackles for loss, and 5.0 sacks.
Willis’ break-out season came in 2005 when he earned All-American and All-SEC honors–and led the SEC in tackles.
In 2006, Willis was a consensus All-American. He was selected to 13 All-American teams, the most by any Rebel player in history. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, first team All-SEC, and consensus All-American.
In 2006, he won the Jack Lambert Award and Dick Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker. Willis also won the Conerly Trophy, given to the best college football player in Mississippi. He was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award and was a semi-finalist for both the Rotary Lombardi Award and Lott Trophy.
Willis was a force to be reckoned with during his time with the Rebels. He was a true hard-nosed linebacker who made opponents pay when they came up the middle. Hits like this one versus LSU are why he was the best linebacker in college football.
NFL and Accolades
Willis went on to become a first round, 11th overall, pick of the San Francisco 49ers in the 2007 NFL Draft. He was a Pro-Bowler in 7 of his 8 NFL seasons, becoming the first former Rebel to earn All-Pro honors in his 6 NFL seasons.
Athlon and SI.com named Willis to the SEC All-Decade team from 2000-2009. Athlon also named him to the All-BCS Era team (1998-2014). Willis was inducted into the Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.