It was hard to miss Jordan Willis last season on the football field.
The senior Kansas State defensive end played a part in seemingly every big stop the Wildcats made.
Check out his statistics. Willis led the team with 15 1/2 tackles for loss, 9 1/2 sacks, four forced fumbles and one blocked kick. He also ranked fifth on the team with three pass breakups. Starting on a defense that struggled to create turnovers and surrendered too many long gains, Willis was the main attraction.
Still, he thinks he could have done more.
“The biggest thing I have been working for all offseason is having a consistent attitude,” Willis said. “I want to have consistent workouts and be a guy who consistently leads the right way. The key word in there is consistency.
“I have been saying it all day. I want to be a more consistent player on Saturdays, so one week I’m not going out there getting zero tackles. How about five tackles every week? I want to be somebody that my coaches and my teammates depend on every week to be the same all the time.”
Willis views this as the next step in his maturation process as a football player. Though he fondly remembers the big tackles he made as a junior, including a 3 1/2 -sack day against Louisiana Tech, he more vividly remembers the bad moments, like getting held without a tackle against West Virginia.
He doesn’t want that to happen again.
“I have gotten quite a bit stronger,” Willis said. “I have matured. I have taken this offseason to work on my pass rushing skills more, and hopefully that means we will get to the quarterback more. I want to be better in every phase of the game.”
A reasonable goal is to improve by the same amount as he did last season. Willis, a 6-foot-5, 260-pounder who played in high school at Rockhurst, also started as a sophomore, making 6 1/2 tackles for loss, four sacks and one pass breakup. Then he showed across-the-board improvement as a junior.
Hopes are high he can do the same as a senior captain and a recipient of several preseason honors.
“He is an amazing defensive end, easily one of the best in the country,” K-State center Dalton Risner said of Willis. “What is awesome about him is he has always been a tremendous athlete, but now he is also turning into a leader.
“He has been a great leader for the defensive line and the defense all summer. I am excited to see what he can do as a senior. I am confident he can go up against any tackle in the Big 12 and win.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett