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ESPN the Magazine NEXT: 49ers' Patrick Willis

Courtesy of ESPN the Magazine

So recently I was contacted by a reader and subsequently a gentleman from ESPN about an interesting little topic.  The World Wide Leader has had various Next topics ranging back to the beginning of ESPN the Magazine.

Recently they began a new campaign, with a whole new batch of next candidates.  And prominently featured: Our boy Patrick Willis.  They're hosting a vote at the site and the winner will be featured in the December 5th issue of ESPN the Magazine.  The nominees are:

  1. Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers
  2. Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers
  3. Joba Chamberlain, New York Yankees
  4. Noel Devine, West Virginia University RB
  5. Tyson Gay, Track Star
They gave each of them headlines and Willis' is "Butkus, Done Bay Area Style."  Additionally they've got a platform and endorsement.
After bagging the Butkus as a junior at Ole Miss, the 49ers first-round pick has quickly emerged as the leading contender for this year's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award. It took the soft-spoken Bruceton, Tenn. native only two games to beat out Brandon Moore (the Niners' leading tackler in `06) for the starting middle linebacker spot. And with tutelage from linebacking legend--and 49er assistant coach--Mike Singletary, Willis has translated his tremendous power (he logged a 700-pound squat at the NFL combine), speed (a sub-4.5 40), and field awareness into a team leading 82 tackles (52 solo) in just 9 games.

"He has a chance to get to that place where Ray Lewis already is. It's so rare that you find someone with all that ability." -Hall of Famer Mike Singletary

So head over to ESPN's NEXT Campaign and vote for Willis.  Since this is a late Friday, early Saturday post I'll throw this up again early next week.