2015 NFL DRAFT

Whitney Mercilus, DE

School: Illinois  |  Conference: BIG10
College Experience: Junior  |  Hometown: Akron, OH
Height/Weight: 6-4 / 261 lbs.
Projected Ranking
OverallPositionProj. Rnd.
2231
Latest News
04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Texans' picks: Round 1/26 - Whitney Mercilus, OLB, 6-4, 261, Illinois...He'll move to outside linebacker in the 3-4 and learn behind starters Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed. All three should play in passing situations. - The Sports Xchange

04/30/2012 - As expected, general manager Rick Smith was able to bolster depth at receiver and in the offensive line, the two most desperate areas on the team. He drafted two receivers and three linemen, and he didn't start to fill those needs until the third round. Smith also drafted a kicker for the first time in franchise history. BEST PICK: Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus: Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips envisions Mercilus coming off the bench in passing situations. He would be paired with starting outside linebackers Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed, defensive tackles J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith and inside linebacker Brian Cushing. Mercilus probably will play weak-side end in the nickel so they can take advantage of his speed coming off the edge. - The Sports Xchange

04/27/2012 - 2012 NFL DRAFT: PICK-BY-PICK ANALYSIS: 26. Houston Texans: DE Whitney Mercilus, Illinois -- A 3-4 linebacker convert candidate with enormous shoes to fill after the free-agent loss of Mario Williams. Mercilus led the nation in sacks as a junior. - Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange

04/27/2012 - Mercilus entered the draft as an underclassman to help take care of his parents, who emigrated from Haiti. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips thinks Mercilus has tremendous upside since he started only one season in college. Phillips believes Mercilus is just scratching the surface as for as his development as a pass rusher. The Texans say Mercilus is tough and plays hard on every snap. He's got a great first step and an impressive closing burst to the quarterback. And he plays hard against the run. Here's what Phillips is planning if Mercilus develops the way he thinks he will. When the Texans go to nickel defense, Brian Cushing and Mercilus will play behind Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed, J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith. Or Mercilus could drop down and have Reed or Barwin rushing from a two-point stance next to Cushing. In other words, Phillips has options. And he's known as a creative coordinator. Mercilus, who'll be developed behind starters Barwin and Reed, gives his coach a lot of options. - The Sports Xchange

04/27/2012 - The Texans entered the first round of the draft wanting an outside linebacker who can rush the passer, an offensive lineman who might start at right tackle or right guard or a wide receiver to develop behind starters Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter. The idea was to take a pass rushing outside linebacker to replace Mario Williams in the first round. If the ones they wanted were gone, they were going to take an offensive lineman. In order, the Texans wanted outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin or guard/tackle Cordy Glenn. General manager Rick Smith and coach Gary Kubiak said privately they thought Mercilus was a terrific prospect, but they added they thought there was no way he'd be there when they made the 26th pick. Lo and behold, Mercilus, Martin and Glenn were all on the board. They thought so highly of Mercilus that they didn't consider trading down. They took him immediately. Mercilus, 6-3, 1/2, 261, ran a 4.68 40-yard dash at the combine. In his one season as a starter for Illinois, he had 16 sacks, nine forced fumbles and 22 1/2 tackles for loss. - The Sports Xchange

04/26/2012 - ROB RANG'S TOP 50 PLAYERS OF THE 2012 NFL DRAFT: 24. Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois: Mercilus' staggering production (16 sacks, nine forced fumbles) at Illinois in 2011 was a function not only of his own talents but also an aggressive scheme that often gave him favorable matchups. While his statistics were inflated, the athleticism Mercilus demonstrated in workouts since this time argue that he has more upside than I've previously given him credit for. As one of several pass rushers capable of lining up at defensive end in the 4-3 or outside linebacker in the 3-4, I fully expect him to be drafted higher than my ranking indicates. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

04/19/2012 - 04/18 NFL DRAFT SCOUT RISER: Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois...Coming off an unexpected breakout junior season that matched some pass rushers' career totals (22.5 tackles for loss, 16.0 sacks), Mercilus has been steadily rising since announcing he'd turn pro. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com

04/10/2012 - The Browns have taken a rap for missing out on players in their own backyard, i.e. linebacker James Harrison with the Steelers and tight end Antonio Gates of the Chargers. Both players went to Kent State and both gained stardom despite not being drafted. Both were missed by former regimes - not by Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert. Heckert is determined not to make the same mistake with Illinois defensive end/linebacker Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus is a lock to go in the first round and could be available when the Browns pick 22nd. He led the nation with 13.5 sacks in 2011, and though the Browns spent a second-round pick last year on Jabaal Sheard, who led the Browns with 8.5 sacks, a team can never have too many pass rushers. The local connection for Mercilus: He is a native of nearby Akron. - The Sports Xchange

04/10/2012 - The Detroit Lions didn't hesitate to pull the trigger when one-year wonder Nick Fairley fell to them with the 13th pick in last year's draft. If things break right, they could take a flash of a pass rusher again. The Lions hosted Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus on a pre-draft visit Monday. A projected first-round pick, Mercilus came out of nowhere to lead the nation with 16 sacks last year after recording one in each of his first two seasons. He shrugged off the one-year wonder label at the NFL combine in February. "I just was able to put everything together," Mercilus said. "I was still learning the game as a redshirt sophomore and a redshirt freshman. Just last year, studying myself more, seeing what I do best and just put it all together for the 2011 season. I broke out that season." The Lions return all nine contributors from a defensive line that accounted for 35 of their 41 sacks last year, but have several questions at the position long term. - Dave Birkett, The Detroit Free Press

03/28/2012 - Whitney Mercilus didn't think. He acted on impulse. Last summer, he noticed Illinois teammate DeJazz Woods squatting 405 pounds across the weight room. Woods crouched down and couldn't get up. Woods had a spotter but needed more help. Mercilus sprinted over and threw his hand into the fray. "To catch something," he said. And in an instant, Mercilus' left index fingertip was severed between the barbell and the safety rack. Sliced off. There was a moment of shock, of horror, of disbelief - and then Mercilus moved on. A trainer later retrieved the fingertip. It was still stuck to the barbell. No big deal. "He just shook it off and said, 'Time to get back on the field,' " Mercilus' younger brother, Donald, said. "We talked on the phone and he just said, 'I lost a finger today,' " his older sister, Glory, said. "I was like, 'What do you mean?' I didn't think anything of it until my parents told me he literally lost half of his finger." Mercilus didn't make a fuss out of it because he remembers where he's from, why he's here. Mercilus' parents, Wilner and Yvrose, are Haitian immigrants. Both worked multiple jobs to pay off bills, pay off home mortgages and put food on the table. The experience sticks to Mercilus. For two years at Illinois, the defensive end was invisible, a non-event. And as a junior - after that "Saw VII" scene in the weight room - Mercilus was a human wrecking ball. He led the nation with 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles. So now teams constantly ask the same question: "Where did you come from?" Mercilus, one of the top pass rushers available in this year's draft, points to his childhood in Akron, Ohio. "It's something that was definitely passed down to me, my brother and my sister," Mercilus said. "It's a matter of never giving up and working hard. Everything pays off." - Tyler Dunne, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

03/16/2012 - NFL Draft Scout Top Edge Players, OLB/DE: *Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois, 6-4, 261, 1...Mercilus' startling 2011 season sent scouts scrambling to learn more about him, and the news was better than expected. After two mediocre seasons at Illinois, Mercilus used cat-like moves to become an All-American and win the Ted Hendricks Award as the best defensive end in the country. He led the nation with 16 sacks, nine forced fumbles and had 22.5 tackles for a loss. Of all his statistics, forced fumbles is the one that many scouts admire most. "I just have a knack for it," he said. "Throughout the game I was able to watch the quarterback's movements and just see him open up and then I just go in there and just knock it away." Scouts gush a list of positives traits, including quickness, agility, strength, instincts, condition, attitude ... and he is just beginning to mature and could be a great outside linebacker. Reaching for comparisons, they mention names like Simeon Rice, Dwight Freeney, Richard Dent and even the great Reggie White. The U.S.-born son of parents who emigrated from Haiti in the 1980s, Mercilus played mostly soccer until high school. His 2011 season had an inauspicious beginning when he lost the tip of his left index finger last spring in a weight-room accident. Teammates were shocked when he light-heartedly dismissed the injury as only a bother when he played the keyboard or tried to pick up coins. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange/NFLDraftScout.com

03/13/2012 - While there continues to be a shortage of "five technique" 3-4 end prospects, things seem to be looking increasingly positive for clubs seeking 3-4 rush linebackers. There are a number of college defensive ends -- like USC's Nick Perry, Andre Branch of Clemson, and Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, among them -- who seem capable of making the transition. At the combine and on tape, scouts have been impressed by the players' abilities to play in space, and although the relative video samples have been small, the projections are now better than they were a month ago. Mercilus especially turned in a nice performance at a stand-up linebacker stint during his recent pro day. - Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange

03/07/2012 - "After participating in the Illinois pro day Tuesday, I think my draft stock is in pretty good shape. This was a day to show the NFL what I can do. I did everything at the combine a little more than a week ago and was happy with most of the results, so I didn't need to do the 40-yard dash, vertical jump or bench press again. I thought about trying the broad jump again after I had a 9-foot-10-inch jump at the combine. I have jumped a legitimate 10-0 when training. I decided not to do it again because I didn't want to risk jumping less than 9-10. I decided to try the short shuttle and three-cone drill again because I thought I could do better, and I did (4.49 in the short shuttle after running a 4.53 at the combine; 7.03 in the three-cone after a 7.17 at the combine). My legs were dead when I ran those drills at the combine, and I didn't do too hot. I wanted to try them with fresh legs so I don't get knocked for having bad hip flexibility. I also did the positional drills for defensive end and linebacker. I got some feedback that I looked pretty smooth in the linebacker drills. I feel I wowed a few people with how well I moved for a D-end who has put my hand on the ground my whole life. I also caught the ball well - didn't drop a single one. After the workout, Jaguars defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who ran the defensive line drills, said he thought I did phenomenal." - By Whitney Mercilus, As told to Dan Pompei/WGN News

03/07/2012 - Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus became the first top prospect to participate in agility tests during the Pro Day season, running an impressive 4.38-second short shuttle and a 7.03-second three-cone drill, according to NFL.com. One of 18 prospects to work out in front of representatives from all 32 NFL teams for Tuesday's indoor workout on field turf, Mercilus is trying to prove he can transition to edge rusher in a 3-4 scheme if asked. Rated as the No. 3 defensive end prospect and No. 26 overall by NFLDraftScout.com, Mercilus measured in at 6-3 7/8, 258 pounds. Offensive tackle Jeff Allen, a rising prospect looking to crack the top three rounds, stood on his workout numbers from the Scouting Combine, although he did run a 4.78 short shuttle and 7.57 three-cone drill. A.J. Jenkins is the 18th-rated wide receiver by NFLDraftScout.com. He ran a 4.06 short shuttle and a 6.73 three-cone drill. Cornerback Tavon Wilson is a fringe draft prospect who ran 4.5 and 4.55-second 40-yard dashes to go along with a 32-inch vertical jump, 10"4' brad jump, 4.16 short shuttle, 7.04 three-cone drill and bench pressed 225 pounds 17 times. But there was no doubt the scouts were on hand primarily to take in Mercilus' workout. He's one of the first-round's biggest enigmas. - NFLDraftScout.com

03/07/2012 - Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus led the nation with 16 sacks and 9 forced fumbles after getting just 2 sacks in his first two seasons with the Illini. But he says he's not worried about becoming known as a one-year wonder. "Once you're able to produce like that and you put it all together, in your mind you know you're able to repeat that success," Mercilus said. The NFL's advisory committee gave Mercilus a third-round grade when he inquired after the 2011 season about leaving Champaign-Urbana a year early. But he - and just about everyone else - believes he'll come off the board much sooner. "You can't fall into 16 sacks," he said. "There's no fluke to it: 16 is 16. There's no way you can just fall onto a sack." - Bob LeGere, The Daily Herald

03/07/2012 - Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus answered the most pressing questions surrounding his draft stock during Tuesday's pro day and solidified himself as a sure-fire first-round selection. Mercilus (6-foot-3 7/8, 258 pounds) ran a 4.38-second short shuttle and a 7.03-second three-cone drill. He looked good, and performed well in the subsequent workouts. He answered the question of whether he can be the guy who plays in a 3-4 defense because of his ability to play in space. Mercilus was solid closing in on pass receivers in space. Combine his coverage ability and his knack for rushing the passer (14 sacks last season) and he should be a first-day draft pick. In addition to Mercilus, 18 other players worked out in front of all 32 teams. The pro day was held indoors and conducted on field turf. - Gil Brandt, NFL.com

03/07/2012 - After two mediocre season's at Illinois, he busted out as the nation's top defensive end with 16 sacks, nine forced fumbles and a whopping 22.5 tackles for loss. "I just have a knack for it," he said at the Combine, where he ran a 4.68 40, fourth-best among defensive linemen in attendance. "Throughout the game I was able to watch the quarterback's movements and just see him open up and then I just go in there and just knock it away." He also benched 225 pounds 27 times, had a 32-inch vertical jump, a 118-inch broad jump, a 7.17 three-cone drill and a 4.53 in the short shuttle in Indianapolis. Scouts gush a list of positives traits, including quickness, agility, strength, instincts, condition, attitude ... and he is just beginning to mature and could be a great outside linebacker. Reaching for comparisons, they mention names like Simeon Rice, Dwight Freeney, Richard Dent, and even the great Reggie White. The U.S. born son of parents who emigrated from Haiti in the 1980s, Mercilus played mostly soccer until high school. His 2011 season had an auspicious beginning when lost the tip of his left index finger last spring in a weight-room accident. Teammates were shocked when he light-heartedly dismissed the injury as only a bother when he played the keyboard or tried to pick up coins. - NFLDraftScout.com

03/06/2012 - The draft stock of Whitney Mercilus continued its upward trend Tuesday as the Illinois defensive end was the standout at the school's pro day. Mercilus passed on the 40-yard dash, the vertical and broad jumps and bench press after having done well in those tests at the combine. But he did decide to take another stab at the short shuttle and the three-cone drill. He improved his short-shuttle time to 4.49 (from 4.53 at the combine) and he improved his three-cone drill to 7.03 (from 7.17 at the combine). What's more, Mercilus looked quick and explosive in pass-rush drills and created a buzz among scouts with how well he did in outside linebacker drills. Three scouts remarked about how smooth and fluid Mercilus looked in his drops, and Mercilus even showed good hands. Among those present was New England Patriots college scouting director Jon Robinson, who usually is the member of the front office but who evaluates defensive ends who are trying to play linebacker. There were no general managers, head coaches or defensive coordinators at the workout, but there was a good showing of area scouts. There were 34 NFL representatives from 29 teams. Pro scout James Kirkland represented the Bears, as the college scouts were tied up in draft meetings. - Dan Pompei, The Chicago Tribune

02/25/2012 - Only quarterbacks are in greater demand than pass rushers. In the 2012 draft class, the need outweighs the supply, pushing players such as Illinois' Whitney Mercilus and Nick Perry of Southern Cal up draft boards. Mercilus and Perry lack prototypical size, but both have the natural quickness and whatever-it-takes attitude. Both entered the NFL early after productive junior seasons. Both are expected to be selected in the top-50 picks and make a living collapsing the pocket in the NFL. They just have different stories and styles. Mercilus was a relative unknown entering the 2011 season with only two career sacks. But he shined as a junior and first-year starter last year, leading all of college football with 16 sacks, earning him All-American honors. Mercilus decided to capitalize on his breakout campaign and enter the 2012 NFL Draft as an early entry. "I was just able to put everything together," said Mercilus. "It was just due to hard work, that's all I have to accredit it to. Can't say I'm surprised, but it happened. I made it happen." With top production for only one season, teams must figure out whether Mercilus is a one-year wonder. That's a description Mercilus doesn't necessarily agree with and the connotation can be damning. It was applied to the FBS sacks leader Da'Quan Bowers out of Clemson, and he fell to the late second round. "I think it's a negative label. Once you have it, you have it," Mercilus said. One of the most impressive statistics by Mercilus from his prolific 2011 season was his nine forced fumbles, a mark that is second all-time in NCAA history. How does he explain his ability to strip the ball? "I just have a knack for it, I time it up right," he said. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com

02/23/2012 - NFL DRAFT SCOUT PRE-COMBINE TOP 64: 31. *Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois, 6-4, 265, 1-2...Mercilus' startling 2011 season sent scouts scrambling to learn more about him, and the news was better than expected. After two mediocre seasons at Illinois, Mercilus used cat-like moves to become an All-American and win the Ted Hendricks Award as the best defensive end in the country. He led the nation with 16 sacks, nine forced fumbles and had 22.5 tackles for a loss. Scouts gush a list of positives traits, including quickness, agility, strength, instincts, condition, attitude ... and he is just beginning to mature and could be a great outside linebacker. Reaching for comparisons, they mention names like Simeon Rice, Dwight Freeney, Richard Dent, and even the great Reggie White. The U.S. born son of parents who emigrated from Haiti in the 1980s, Mercilus played mostly soccer until high school. His 2011 season had an auspicious beginning when lost the tip of his left index finger last spring in a weight room accident. Teammates were shocked when he light-heartedly dismissed the injury as only a bother when he played the keyboard or tried to pick up coins. He should wow scouts at the Combine with his remarkable athleticism and then he will surely need to pick up a lot more coins after the NFL draft. - Frank Cooney - The Sports Xchange, NFL Draft Scout

02/21/2012 - 2012 NFL COMBINE, PLAYERS WITH SOMETHING TO PROVE: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois: In leading the nation in sacks (16) and forced fumbles (nine), he proved every bit as merciless to opponents as his surname would imply. Scouts question how much of his production was because of his motor and Illinois' hyper-aggressive scheme rather than elite burst or bend. North Carolina's Quinton Coples is the only defensive end universally regarded as a first-round talent. With an impressive showing in Indianapolis, Mercilus could join him. - NFLDraftScout.com

01/03/2012 - Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus declared he is leaving the Illini program a year early. "After a lot of prayer and discussion with my family, I have decided the time is right for me to forgo my senior year and enter the 2012 NFL draft," Mercilus said in a statement. Mercilus is the No. 3-rated defensive end prospect for the 2012 draft by NFLDraftScout.com, and the No. 35-rated overall prospect. The 6-foot-3, 262-pound Mercilus tied Simeon Rice's school record with 16 sacks in 2011 while setting a Big Ten record with nine forced fumbles - the second-highest single-season total in NCAA history. He also racked up a conference-best 22.5 tackles for loss while earning first-team All-America honors. Mercilus also won the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award. Mercilus entered the season with just two career sacks, but his departure after a monster season didn't come as a surprise following the firing of Ron Zook and with defensive coordinator and interim head coach Vic Koenning declining an offer to stay on as coordinator. "I'm very proud of Whitney for the amount of work he put in to be in this position," defensive line coach Keith Gilmore said in a statement. "He really matured during the season and became a terrific leader not only for the defensive line, but for the entire defense." - NFLDraftScout.com

01/03/2012 - University of Illinois junior defensive end Whitney Mercilus announced Tuesday that he will forgo his senior season at Illinois to enter the 2012 NFL Draft, which will take place April 26-28 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Mercilus had a remarkable 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. Mercilus earned consensus first-team All-America honors, the first Illini to do so since linebacker J Leman in 2007, won the Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end and was named the College Football Performance Awards National Defensive Player of the Year. A 2011 season captain for the Fighting Illini, Mercilus helped Illinois to its second-straight winning season and a victory over UCLA in Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. He also led an Illinois defense that ranks in the top-10 nationally in total defense, passing defense, sacks and tackles for loss. Mercilus is the seventh Illini in the last five years to enter the draft with eligibility remaining. The previous six all were taken in the first three rounds. - Illinois football

12/31/2011 - PLAYERS TO WATCH: DE Whitney Mercilus might be playing his final game for the Illini. As a finalist for the Nagurski Award as the nation's best defensive player, the junior has the resume to make himself available for the NFL draft. Mercilus lead the nation in sacks (14.5) and sacks per game (1.21). He also broke the Big Ten record with nine forced fumbles, one short of the NCAA record of 10. Mercilus leads the conference with 19.5 tackles for loss. - The Sports Xchange

12/14/2011 - Defensive coordinator and interim head coach Vic Koenning has turned down an offer to stay at Illinois. He will leave after coaching the Illini in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against UCLA on New Year's Eve. New coach Tim Beckman said Wednesday that Koenning declined an offer to remain coordinator. He praised Koenning's work during his two seasons at Illinois. In a statement released by the school, Koenning said he will explore other opportunities. Beckman was hired last week to replace Ron Zook, who was fired after the Illini finished the regular season 6-6. Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino left last week to return to Arkansas. Beckman said defensive line coach Keith Gilmore will stay at Illinois. - AP Sports

12/07/2011 - 2011 AFCA FBS COACHES' ALL-AMERICA TEAM: DL Whitney Mercilus, Jr., Illinois, has been selected to the 2011 AFCA FBS Coaches' All-America Team announced by the American Football Coaches Association. Mercilus, who is a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Year Award and the Ted Hendricks National Defensive End of the Year Award, leads the nation in sacks, sacks per game and forced fumbles while ranking sixth nationally in tackles for loss per game. A native of Akron, Ohio, Mercilus is one of college football's breakout players in 2011, as he has 52 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles and six quarterback hurries. Mercilus has already has broken the Illinois and Big Ten single-season records for forced fumbles and is one shy of tying the NCAA record of 10. He also is 1.5 sacks away from tying former two-time All-America Simeon Rice's school season record of 16 sacks. He has had at least one sack in 10 of 12 games this season, including a career-high three against Indiana, and has forced a fumble in four straight games. - Illinois football

12/07/2011 - 2011 TED HENDRICKS DEFENSIVE END OF THE YEAR AWARD: The Ted Hendricks Foundation announced today that Illinois junior Whitney Mercilus is the 2011 recipient of the Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award. Mercilus leads the nation in sacks, sacks per game and forced fumbles while ranking sixth nationally in tackles for loss per game. He becomes Illinois first major national award winner since Dana Howard (1994) and Kevin Hardy (1995) won the Butkus Award in back-to-back years. A native of Akron, Ohio, Mercilus is one of college football's breakout players in 2011, as he has 52 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles and six quarterback hurries. Mercilus has already has broken the Illinois and Big Ten single-season records for forced fumbles and is one shy of tying the NCAA record of 10. He also is 1.5 sacks away from tying former two-time All-America Simeon Rice's school season record of 16 sacks. He has had at least one sack in 10 of 12 games this season, including a career-high three against Indiana, and has forced a fumble in four straight games. Mercilus also is finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the national Defensive Player of the Year, is a first team All-America selection by the American Football Coaches Association and a first team All-Big Ten selection. - Illinois football

09/29/2011 - DE Whitney Mercilus posted 1 sack for 7 yards Saturday against Western Michigan. He leads the Big Ten with 4 sacks. That 1 sack per game average is good for a share of sixth place nationally. - The Sports Xchange

09/29/2011 - PLAYERS TO WATCH: DE Whitney Mercilus - The redshirt junior has developed into a pass-rushing beast. He earned 1 sack and 3 quarterback hurries last week against Western Michigan, which pushed him to 4 sacks and 5 hurries for the year. He leads the Big Ten in sacks. - The Sports Xchange

09/22/2011 - Illinois has jumped into the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time since Sept. 2008. The No. 24 Illini hadn't been ranked since losing at Penn State on Sept. 27, 2008. When Illinois lines up Sept. 24 against Western Michigan, it will be the program's eighth game as a ranked team since the start of the 2002 season. The Illini are 3-4 as a ranked team under Ron Zook. For those who believe in omens, here's what Illinois' 17-14 win over Arizona State means historically: The Illini capped off their first 3-0 start since 2001. They also earned their first win over a Pac-12 team since 2001. They also earned their first non-conference win over a Top 25 team since 2001. Of course, 2001 is the last year Illinois won the Big Ten. Illinois leads the Big Ten and ranks seventh nationally in rushing defense. Vic Koenning's unit has surrendered just 63.8 rushing yards per game. That number has been influenced by the team's effective pass rush. Illinois leads the Big Ten in sacks (11) and tackles for loss (26) -- both of which rank among the top 12 in the country. - The Sports Xchange

09/22/2011 - KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Whitney Mercilus - The redshirt junior lost the first knuckle of his left index finger during a freak weightlifting accident in April. Illinois' trainers tricked out a glove that includes a splint that replaces the knuckle. Mercilus used that left hand to tip a pass that became an interception. He also produced two sacks against Arizona State, including one that forced a fumble to set up Illinois' winning touchdown. - The Sports Xchange

09/22/2011 - Arizona State allowed just one sack in its first two games, but Illinois got to Osweiler six times. Two of the sacks turned into turnovers, starting with Brown's red-zone blitz that forced Osweiler to throw a pass off offensive tackle Dan Knapp's back and into defensive tackle Glenn Foster's arms. Then there was defensive end Whitney Mercilus' huge fourth quarter sack that forced a fumble into linebacker Ian Thomas' hands. The latter turnover, which came at Arizona State's 41-yard line, gave Illinois' struggling offense enough of a head-start to put together its only scoring drive of the final three quarters. Nathan Scheelhaase's 16-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Jenkins with 9:59 left lifted the Illini to the victory. Illinois' defenders came out of the game believing they proved something to a prime-time audience. "I was tired of the negativity (toward our defense)," said Mercilus, who posted two sacks, in the Daily Herald. "I just wanted to prove to everybody in the public that we're not second-rate." - The Sports Xchange

 
 
Latest News
04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Texans' picks: Round 1/26 - Whitney Mercilus, OLB, 6-4, 261, Illinois...He'll move to outside linebacker in the 3-4 and learn behind starters Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed. All three should play in passing situations. - The Sports Xchange

  • Full *Whitney Mercilus News Wire
  •  

    CBSSports.com Shop

    Seattle Seahawks Nike KO Warp Full Zip Hoodie

    Nike NFL Warp Collection
    Get your favorite team
    Shop Now

    Fantasy Games