Newly appointed Wildcat captain ready to lead by example

Senior defensive end Jordan Willis waves as he is introduced as a 2016 team captain prior to the annual Purple-White Spring Game on April 23, 2016, in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

Senior Jordan Willis is nowhere near the loudest guy in the K-State locker room, but he said he is OK with that; he prefers to lead by example.

The big defensive end from Kansas City will be one of four captains for the Wildcat football team this coming season. Willis said he’s a quiet guy, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a leader on this team.

“I’m not really a vocal guy, but I lead by example and I’ll give guys tons of advice,” Willis said. “Whether it’s through text messages or pulling them aside and speaking to them or just watching film with them, that’s my way of leadership.”

Linebacker and fellow senior Will Davis said Willis definitely deserves the honor of being a team captain.

“(Willis is) a guy who deserves it 100 percent,” Davis said after the spring game. “There’s no one that I could think to be a better captain than (Willis). The way he works in the offseason, he’s so precise and so diligent and so dedicated to this team. There’s no one else that deserves to be a captain more than he does.”

Head coach Bill Snyder has called Willis out for his work ethic this spring, saying his consistency has been a big factor.

“I think Jordan Willis has had a really excellent spring, day in and day out,” Snyder said at last week’s press conference. “He has been very consistent about what he has done.”

Consistency is something Willis said he wanted to work on over the spring and into the upcoming season.

“When I sat down with (Snyder) in the offseason, one of the things I told him I wanted to be better at was consistency,” Willis said. “I’ve shown that I can be a good player, but if I do it more consistently across the board I can really help the team.”

Willis said consistency, practice time and getting players back from injuries are things that are going to help the Wildcat defensive unit.

“I think with the additions of the people that were hurt coming back, we did make gains this spring, but it’s just the spring so you make some gains as much as you can within 13 practices,” Willis said. “You’re not going to see everything that you want to see at the end of spring so you’re just going to keep working.”

Fifth-year senior Dante Barnett also said the defense can be improved after an injury-riddled season forced many underclassmen into action.

“Everyone who played last year got their feet wet during the season, so now they’re more confident in their play,” Barnett said.

Saturday’s spring game was finally an opportunity to get on the field in a game environment for this hungry defense. Willis said the defense improved as the game went on.

“Early in the game, we weren’t playing like we could’ve played, but in the second half we improved,” Willis said.

Willis said there’s still room to improve individually and as a team before the season starts.

“We made some strides from where we were a year ago,” Willis said. “We’re better, but now we got the summer and fall to really make gains and improvement.

No matter how shy or quiet he may be, as a captain and leader of this team, Willis said he will do whatever it takes to improve.

“I’m going to do everything I can for this team to make sure we’re better than the 6-7 team that we were last year,” Willis said.

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