Illini Whitney Mercilus Entering the NFL Draft

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University of Illinois junior defensive end Whitney Mercilus announced today that he will forgo his senior season at Illinois to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

 Mercilus who has the best name a defensive line man can have, emerged from total obscurity to have a banner year for the Fighting Illini, tying Simeon Rice’s single-season record and leading the nation with 16 sacks.

He also forced nine fumbles on the season, breaking Illinois and Big Ten records and ranking as the second-most in NCAA history. His 22.5 tackles for loss in 2011 led the Big Ten, rank second in the nation and third in the Illinois record book.

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Illini DE Whitney Mercilus: Best at his Position in the Nation

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University of Illinois junior defensive end Whitney Mercilus was named yesterday to the Associated Press All-America first team. That means he’s truly “everybody’s All-American” and he’s been named to 10 different All-America teams. Nine of which were first-team.

He also took home the Hendricks Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive end.

“There’s a lot of great players out there, and I just happened to beat them out. It’s a blessing,” Mercilus said during halftime of a recent Illini basketball game.

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Illini Defensive End Whitney Mercilus Wins Top National DE Award

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Illinois junior Whitney Mercilus has won the 2011 Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award. Mercilus led the nation in sacks, sacks per game and forced fumbles while ranking sixth nationally in tackles for loss per game. He becomes the first Illini national award winner since Dana Howard (1994) and Kevin Hardy (1995) won the Butkus Award (best linebacker in college football) in back-to-back years.

With a name like Mercilus, pronounced merciless, you have to be a college football player. And a player at the very aggressive attacking position of defensive end too- that helps. He’s a man with a name built for his role like former Illini OL Eric Block, or current Buffalo Bills DB Reggie Corner.

Mercilus beat out finalists Frank Alexander (Oklahoma), Andre Branch (Clemson), Vinny Curry (Marshall), Sam Montgomery (LSU) and Nick Perry, Jr. (USC), garnering over half the vote from current and former college coaches, former players, media members and pro football personnel professionals.

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Hawkeyes Marvin McNutt, Illini Whitney Mercilus on College Football All-Name Team

With a name like Mercilus, pronounced merciless, you have to be a college football player. And a player at the very aggressive attacking position of defensive end too- that helps. Illinois Fighting Illini junior DE Whitney Mercilus is just that; a man with a name built for his role like former Illini OL Eric Block, or current Buffalo Bills DB Reggie Corner.

“I do get a lot of comments, I just walk in public, and people hear my name, and they’re like really? Mercilus that’s your last name? Yeah, it’s a cool last name and you have to play with a name like mine,” Mercilus said.

If there’s one thing the coaches could change with Whitney, it’s getting him to be less timid.

“Yeah, it’s very opposite of my name. Same thing my teammates and former teammates have told me- You’ve got to play more aggressive, stop thinking, go faster, yo look at your last name. It makes no sense for you to be playing like this,” Mercilus said at media day.

Mercilus is joined on college football’s best names in the Big Ten by Iowa Hawkeyes receiver Marvin McNutt.

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