Archive for Saturday, July 28, 2007

Former KU great Pless to join Ring of Honor

Linebacker set standard for Jayhawk tacklers

July 28, 2007


Willie Pless will join a select Kansas University list this fall when he becomes the 14th football player to have his name added to the school's Ring of Honor.

A linebacker for the Jayhawks from 1982-85, Pless is the KU and Big Eight Conference career tackling leader. He will be feted during the season opener Sept. 1 against Central Michigan.

Already a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame (2000) and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2005), Pless still owns the top three season tackle totals in school history with 206 in 1984, 191 in '85 and 188 in '83.

His 633 career tackles are 117 more than Nick Reid, who is second on the school list with 416 stops.

After earning all-state honors at Anniston, Ala., High, Pless played in every game as a KU freshman in 1982. As a sophomore in 1983 he earned first-team all-Big Eight honors with a then school-record 188 tackles.

That year he averaged 17 tackles per game and recorded at least 20 stops four times. Against Missouri that season he recorded 22 tackles, a sack, interception and fumble recovery.

Pless to join Ring of Honor

KU defensive legend Willie Pless will be added to the Ring of Honor at Memorial Stadium on September 1. Enlarge video

In 1984 Pless earned second-team Associated Press All-America honors after recording 206 tackles. In that season, he registered a school-record 25-tackle game against Oklahoma State and notched double-digit tackle totals in every game, including 20 stops four different times.

As a senior in '85, Pless was tapped first-team All-Big Eight for the third time while registering 191 tackles. He played in three all-star games - Blue-Gray, Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine. He was chosen the defensive MVP of the Blue-Gray contest.

Pless also excelled in the classroom where he was a Region VII Academic All-American in '85.

Kansas University football player Willie Pless holds the award that bears his name: KU's Willie Pless Tackler of the Year Award.

Kansas University football player Willie Pless holds the award that bears his name: KU's Willie Pless Tackler of the Year Award.

Undrafted by the NFL, primarily because of his undersized 5-foot-10, 210-pound frame, Pless went to Canada, where he made the CFL all-star team 11 times, and was chosen the league's top defensive player five times. He retired from the CFL in 1999 as the league's all-time leading tackler.

Pless, who lives in Edmonton, where he works in sales, is the first former Jayhawk tapped for the Ring of Honor since Nolan Cromwell in 2005.

The other players whose names appear in the north end zone bowl at Memorial Stadium are John Hadl, Curtis McClinton, Gale Sayers, Bobby Douglass, David Jaynes, George Mrkonic, Otto Schnellbacher, John Zook, Ray Evans, Bruce Kallmeyer, Gil Reich and Oliver Spencer.


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