Mercilus story similar to Pierre-Paul

INDIANAPOLIS _ Whitney Mercilus of Illinois has a story that is very similar to another young defensive end who entered the NFL Draft a couple of years ago.

Mercilus is the son of Haitian immigrants and freely admits that he still was learning the game early in his college career until he put things together with a 16-sack season as a junior for the Illini in 2011.

If Mercilus' tale sounds familiar, it is somewhat comparable to New York Giants star Jason Pierre-Paul, who arrived in New York as a first-round pick with only one season of Division I success under his belt. But during the Giants' run to the Super Bowl this season, Pierre-Paul emerged as perhaps their most dominant defender.

Asked about his success this year after just two sacks in two years at Illinois, Mercilu said, “I just was able to put everything together. I was still learning the game as a redshirt sophomore and redshirt freshman. Just last year, studying myself more and seeing what I do best, I just put it all together for last season, and I broke out last season.

“It was just due to hard work. That's all I have to credit it to. It just didn't happen. I made it happen.... I was still learning the game. I was young. I was a raw talent. I would show flashes in games at times and I was finally able to just put it all together.”

Mercilus is flattered by the comparisons to Pierre-Paul, and said he is ready for his hard work to pay off to help his parents who instilled the value of hard work into him.

“My parents are Haitian immigrants. I can't give you a dateline on when they came here or anything like that,” he said. “They worked for everything. They broke their backs for a number of years just to put food on the table for me and my brother and my sister and they instilled those values in us to just work hard and never give up on anything in life. Just keep pushing forward and you can do great things. And it definitely happened.”

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Terry McCormick covers the

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