Long-time Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder called Willis "the epitome" of Kansas State football. That's high praise from a Hall of Fame coach who has led the program all but three years since 1989. Willis earned that praise with his play on the field and attitude off of it. He was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and also garnered third-team Associated Press All-American honors, as he made 52 tackles and led his team with 17.5 tackles for loss and topped the conference with 11.5 sacks. Big 12 coaches and media inexplicably left Willis off their all-conference teams in 2015, even though he started every game and made 15.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks, while forcing four fumbles (tied for ninth nationally). Willis started each game for the Wildcats as a sophomore, as well (25 stops, 6.5 for loss, four sacks). The Kansas City Star All-Metro pick as a high school senior played in nine games (his one tackle was a sack) his first year in Manhattan.
Good eyes vs. zone read; sees mesh point clearly. Quick responder once he diagnoses the action. Excellent change of direction ability to stay in the hunt. Finishes tackles, rarely allowing runners to escape grasp. Pursuit will not stop until the whistle blows. Proficient with hands. Hands are strong and control the action. Well-schooled with excellent stack-and-shed ability. Good strength in base and plays with adequate contact balance. Stays clean setting edge while spying into backfield. Uses blockers' forward lean against them, sends them tumbling forward. Arm over is a pet move that gives him early wins. Track-stance pass rusher who comes out of the blocks with decent burst to the edge. Hard worker. Productive in sacks and forced fumbles over final two seasons at KSU.
Straight-liner mover. Very deliberate as a pass rusher. Shows rush moves early and rarely deviates from original track. One-speed rusher lacking dynamic qualities to turn corner for tight loops. Could get flattened in the rush arc due to hip tightness. Timing of hands need work as he tends to shoot prematurely, opening himself up to counter moves. Rarely makes tackles redirect inside with sharp counters. Tackles often come at angles. Might need to move to outside linebacker on next level.
Productive three-year starter who plays with desired motor from whistle to whistle. Willis is a stack-and-shed edge defender with good play strength and quality hand work at the point of attack. He will need more creativity to be an effective NFL pass rusher, but he should be able to earn a roster spot and work his way up the pecking order in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.