B1G Media Days: Khari Willis, Spartan Spirit

B1G Media Days: Khari Willis, Spartan Spirit

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B1G Media Days: Khari Willis, Spartan Spirit

Khari Willis represented Michigan State with class, authenticity, and spirituality in delivering the student athlete address today at the Big Ten Media Days Kickoff Luncheon.

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There should be a political action committee somewhere producing bumper stickers that say KHARI WILLIS, 2020 on them right now.

Michigan State’s senior saftey – and one of three Spartans that represented the program today at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago – delivered a speech in front of his fellow student athletes, media members, alumni, and fans at the 47th Annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago that will leave yet another Spartan legacy for this great Big Ten tradition.

It’s also a certainty that Willis made Kirk Cousins proud.

Cousins, of course, delivered one of the finest speeches of any kind at this event in 2011 and has left big shoes to fill for all student athletes who are selected to deliver this speech for years to come.

Khari Willis was up to the challenge and he demonstrated why he’s a safe bet to earn captain status for the 2018 Spartans.

Among the great elements of his address, Willis spoke about the way the entire Michigan State program rebuilt itself after the disastrous 2016 season.

He credited Michigan State strength and conditioning coach, Ken Mannie, with applying a specific term to the entire process that was necessary.

The term was “reaffirmation.”

After explaining how he and his nine brothers and sisters were raised to use good judgment, make good decisions, and shine a bright light for those around them, Willis explained how the “reaffirmation” process meant that the Spartans literally went back to the drawing board to establish new moral values, reassess the way the program functioned, and reinvent the foundation on which the program was built in the first place.

That experience, Willis says, drew the team closer and made it possible to have the bounce back season of 2017.

Willis touched on how student athletes all around the Big Ten come from backgrounds that many times lack hope, resources, and guidance.

Willis encouraged his colleagues to go back to their communities and help young kids who may be without hope to make good decisions, resist the temptations that can lead down dark paths, and to, again, shine light on those around them.

Much of the Spartan solutions that grew out of the “reaffirmation” process after the 2016 season included listening, understanding, sacrificing, and putting personal goals to the side to make sure that others are better prepared for success.

Willis recited scripture about giving light to those around us.

And when he recited scripture, I don’t mean to say that he read it.

He recited it as if he was leading a spiritual congregation that was in the palm of his hand.

Today, Mark Dantonio touched on how he believes that this year’s Spartans have stronger leadership and continuity than any team he’s had in East Lansing.

With Khari Willis leading the way, that’s easy to see.

As Willis wrapped up his address, he shared a saying that his father has said for as long as he can remember:

“If you blow my candle out, that won’t make your candle any brighter.”

Captain of Michigan State’s 2018 football team feels like a stepping stone for much bigger things for this guy.

For right now, though, whenever he’s talking in the Spartan locker room, people are listening.

Here’s the eight minute speech in its entirety –

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