Houston Texans choose Whitney Mercilus in first round
Apr 28, 2012 | 1534 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Houston Texans made a pick in the first round of the annual NFL Draft Thursday that sent a signal to other teams in the League that they intend to continue to build on last season’s 2nd ranked defensive unit. Houston picked outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, a junior out of Illinois with the 26th overall pick in Round 1

Mercilus faced media representatives in H’Town for the first time Friday afternoon at Reliant Stadium, less than 24 hours after his selection by the team. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips opened the press conference with his overall thoughts on the pick with a huge smile on his face.

“As I said yesterday, this guy fits right in the fold of the kind of players that we have here. It’s an addition to what we have. It’s not to take away from Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin who are outstanding players in their own right. We think this guy fits in and can help with that group immensely. First of all, I think in a three-point stance what he’s naturally done in college, I think that’s where he’ll help us first, but we feel like he can play outside backer. The transition to 3-4 outside backer; we’ve had a lot of them in the past and just had Brooks Reed last year. This guy, this is the kind of guy that can do it. He’s athletic, he’s smart, and he plays extremely hard. That’s really a key that we like to have on our defense is guys that really get after them. That was one of the things that we look for every year, and this is the guy—one of the best in the college ranks this year. We’re really pleased to have him.”

Mercilus expressed excitement in his opening comments. “I’m glad to be here, excited, definitely to be selected by the Texans with the 26th pick. I played in a 4-3 my whole time (at Illinois) with my hand down, but I think I’ve proven myself to move well in space during the combine and also at my pro day. I’m here to contribute and be part of something great here. They went to the playoffs last year as I understand it. I’ll be climbing up the ladder this year to try and help make something great. I’m honored to be a part of that.”

He was asked what the experience had been like for him and his family. “It’s exciting. Everybody’s excited, having the family here. They were excited since last night to get the call, and everybody went and booked flights to come out here and just have everybody experience what I’m going through. I’m glad to be here, everybody’s excited, definitely a lot of fan appreciation, and I’m glad to meet the coaches and everything and have them (his family) be a part of that and keep it a close family.”

“There’s a sense that everybody wants to win here, no doubt, and they selected me here in the first round and they’re expecting that out of me, a lot of expectations, and definitely I want to go to work right way and prove that and not fail them in that sense and just go to work.”

There is no doubt Mercilus can play at the next level, and IF he matures as quickly as last year’s first round pick J.J. Watt did, he just MIGHT help Phillips move the Texans up to the BEST defensive unit in the NFL in the 2012 season.

Whitney Mercilus
85 Whitney Mercilus

Akron, Ohio
  High School:

  Height / Weight:

6-4 / 265






Whitney Mercilus vs. Arizona State

Mercilus Photo Gallery | Mercilus Final Bio (PDF)


  • 2011 Ted Hendricks Award Winner (top DE in nation)
  • 2011 CFPA National Defensive Performer of the Year
  • 2011 Consensus First-Team All-American
  • 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Finalist
  • 2011 Bednarik Award Semifinalist
  • 2011 Rotary Lombardi Award Semifinalist
  • 2011 First Team All-Big Ten (coaches / media)
  • 2011 First-Team All-Big Ten (Phil Steele)
  • CFPA National Defensive Lineman of the Week (10/10/11)
  • Led the Nation in sacks (16) and forced fumbles (9) in 2011


2011 - Junior: Unanimous concensus first-team All-American ... Winner of Ted Hendricks Award as top DE in the nation ... Named College Football Performance Award National Defensive Performer of the Year ... Winner of Bill Willis National Defensive Lineman of the Year Award ... Finalist for Bronko Nagurski Award ... First team All-Big Ten by coaches and media ... Led the nation and the Big Ten in sacks (16.0), sacks per game (1.23) and forced fumbles (9) ... Broke the Big Ten record and ranks second in FBS history for forced fumbles in a season with nine ... Tied Simeon Rice's single-season Illinois sacks record with 16 ... Tied for third in UI record books with 22.5 tackles for loss and tied for second nationally in TFLs per game (1.73) ... Team MVP and Team Captain in 2011 ... Totaled 57 tackles, 22.5 TFL, 16.0 sacks, nine forced fumbles, six QB hurries, one pass break-up and one fumble recovery in 2011 ... Notched five tackles, three TFLs and 1.5 sacks in Illinois' win over UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl ... Posted three tackles, one sack and one forced fumble at Minnesota ... Recorded two tackles, one sack and one forced fumble against Wisconsin ... Posted three tackles, one forced fumble, one TFL, one QBH, and one sack against Michigan ... Recorded six tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble against Penn State ... Had five tackles and 2 TFLs against Purdue ... Against Ohio State, had a career-high nine tackles and recorded 1.5 sacks ... Had five solo tackles, 4.0 TFLs, 3.0 sacks and two forced fumbles against Indiana ... Had six tackles along with 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery against Northwestern ... Recorded four tackles, a career-high three QB hurries and one sack against Western Michigan ... Had five tackles, 2.0 sacks, one forced fumble, one PBU and one QB hurry against Arizona State ... Had three solo tackles, 2.0 TFLs and a forced fumble against Arkansas State ... Announced his plans to forgo his senior season and enter the 2012 NFL Draft on Jan. 3, 2012.

2010 - Sophomore: Played in all 13 games, making two starts ... Had 16 tackles, 3.0 TFLs, one sack, two hurries, two forced fumbles and one PBU in 2010 ... Recorded two tackles, one TFL and forced a fumble in Texas Bowl win over Baylor ... Had a tackle and a QB hurry against NIU ... Made first career start against SIU, tallying his first solo QB sack, 2 TFLs, a forced fumble, a QB hurry and a PBU.

2009 - RS Freshman: Played in 11 games, recording eight tackles, 3.5 TFLs and one sack on the season ... Had a career-best 1.5 TFLs against Northwestern ... Recorded a half-sack in win over Minnesota ... Posted a tackle, and first career quarterback sack, in win over Michigan ... Had a tackle, including his first career TFL, at Purdue.

2008 - Freshman: Redshirted the 2008 season ... Enrolled at Illinois in January 2008.

High School: Rated as the No. 36 defensive end by ESPN.com ... Ranked as the No. 28 weakside defensive end by Rivals.com ... Listed as the 22nd-best recruit in the state of Ohio by Rivals.com ... Posted 36 solo tackles, six for loss, two sacks and four fumble recoveries, including one for a 36-yard touchdown, in 2007 ... Also caught 24 passes for 417 yards and eight touchdowns ... Earned Northeast Ohio Inland All-Star team selection ... Named to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer Defensive All-Star team ... Earned district All-Star honors ... PrepStar All-Region ... Graduated high school with over a 3.0 GPA ... High school coach was Bob Sax.

Personal: Son of Yvrose and Wilner Mercilus ... Last name pronounced MER-sil-us ... Born on July 21, 1990 ... Parents are originally from Haiti ... Majoring in community health ... Chose Illinois over Cincinnati, Kansas, Michigan State and Purdue.


Tackles: 9 vs. Ohio State, 10/15/11

Solos: 5 vs. Indiana, 10/8/11

TFL: 4 vs. Indiana, 10/8/11

QB Sacks: 3 vs. Indiana, 10/8/11

QB Hurry: 3 vs. Western Michigan, 9/24/11

Forced Fumbles: 2 vs. Indiana, 10/8/11

PBU: 1, twice (last vs. Arizona State, 9/17/11)


Mercilus' Statistics:


DefenseGSoloAsst.TotalSacks/YdsTFL/YardsFFFRP DefInt/Yds
2008 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
2009 11 4 4 8 1 / 7 3.5 / 16 -- -- -- --
2010 13 8 8 16 1 / 7 3 / 11 2 -- 1 --
2011 13 28 29 57 16 / 105 22.5 / 123 9 1 1 --
TOTAL 37 40 41 81 18 / 119 29 / 150 11 1 2 --


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