Utah State football: Despite injuries, Reuben Willis has stayed positive

By Megan Allen

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 9 2011 10:00 a.m. MST

“You learn patience. That’s ultimately what I’ve gotten from it. You learn not to take anything for granted,” Willis said. “I’ve gotten hurt every season I’ve been here, so it’s frustrating, but at the same time you learn how to be patient with it.”

As he patiently works toward full health and being able to return to the game he loves, he said the positive side is being able to see the game from a different angle.

“You learn how to see things differently. You can catch the mistakes being made and learn how to fix them in your own game,” Willis said. “You learn how to avoid making the same mistakes once you get back out on the field.”

Patience is one of the many lessons a life in football has taught Willis. He cited that and learning to overcome adversity as the main things that will help in the future, even without football playing this large of a role in his life.

“Our coaching staff has taught us, especially with the seasons we’ve had, to fight through adversity,” Willis said. “It only makes you stronger. I really believe that. That’s the main lesson I can take away from this experience.”

One of the other differences from season to season has been the number Willis has worn on his jersey. He’s back at No. 15 now, a year after trying something new.

“I’ve been 15 since I was in seventh grade. From high school to JC to here, that’s how it’s been,” Willis said. “My junior year I decided to switch it up and go to 55 just for kicks. Junior Seau was my favorite player all growing up and that was his number.”

After a year though, he was asked to switch again to appease a teammate.

“I changed back because we were recruiting Bojay (Filimoeatu). He wanted 55, so I was willing to switch back, especially when 15 was available,” Willis said. “I’ll finish my senior year with the number I started with.”

As the team heads into the final stretch of the 2011 season, things aren’t quite where they were expected to be. However, the team remains positive and optimistic in looking to finish strong.

“I just want to finish out the season. I want to get healthy and get out on the field and contribute,” Willis said. “We want to leave our mark, both as seniors and as a team.”

Megan Allen works for USU Athletic Media Relations.

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