Originally written January 28, 2013 on Bush League Chronicle:
Hey, in case you didn't know, the biggest football game of the year is set to go down on Sunday. Naturally, it creates a lot of media attention. This is a time where old stories are uncovered and brought to the spotlight. With that being said, 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis recently shared an interesting story from his recruiting process.He told The Tennessean on Sunday that he literally cried when the University of Tennessee failed to offer him a scholarship coming out of high school. The Bruceton, Tenn. native eventually landed at Ole Miss where he became an All-American.“Yes I did. I was a Vols fan growing up. That was like America’s Team. I wanted to go there so bad. After every (high school) game my dad and I would get in the car and drive five hours to go to Knoxville to watch them play on an unofficial visit. This was on our gas money and our time. I just wanted to show them how bad I wanted to be there,” Willis said.“I can’t forget being there and you have all these other big-time recruits there and they are shaking their hands and the coaches are talking to them. The coaches never shook my hand. They never talked to me. One day I just got tired of doing that. My senior year, I remember going up and saying, ‘Coach I see all of the other guys getting love. I really want to come here. I’m interested in coming here. Do you have something for me? Maybe a scholarship offer? Maybe something just saying you want me?’ ”The Vols never did offer a scholarship to Willis. I would venture to say that they feel pretty sheepish about that fact nowadays.Willis was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft by San Francisco. He was just recently named to his sixth Pro Bowl.“I’ll never forget getting in the car with my foster dad and we’re riding home and I cried. I cried, not because I was sad, but more so because I knew how badly I wanted to be a Tennessee Vol. I knew what type of player I could be,” Willis said.Fortunately, the story has had a good ending.The good Lord had a plan for me. I ended up going to Ole Miss. I went there and had a blast and had a great time playing football there. Here I am all these years later. The Lord had a plan for me.”I wonder if that plan includes a Super Bowl win against the Ravens?
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