Indianapolis ( Associated Press) – Khary Willis finds there is more to life than football.
So on Tuesday, the Indianapolis Colts surprised many by retiring to join the ministry, promising the 26-year-old early protection.
“I am humbled and excited to carry forward God’s holy call to my life, which brings me great joy and purpose,” Willis wrote in his announcement on Twitter. “Thank you all for the support over the years.”
Indy appears to have considered leaving Willis after waiving him from the team’s mandatory three-day minicamp in early June. Coach at the time, Frank Reich, who attended seminary and became a pastor after the end of his football career, told reporters that Willis was absent for personal reasons.
This is another early exit from a promising youngster. Andrew Luck retired in August 2019 at the age of 29, an absence that left a huge hole. Indy’s sixth consecutive different Opening Day quarterback will be September 11.
But the Colts appear to be in a better position to fill Willis’ void.
Julian Blackmon, Indy’s other incumbent starting safety, has already recovered from a torn Achilles tendon last fall and worked with teammates in minicamps. The Colts also signed veterans Rodney McLeod and Armani Watts in free agency, added hard-hitting safety Nick Cross of Maryland in the third round of this year’s draft, and two cornerback prospects, Marvel Tell III and Dallis Flowers, who play safety. could.
And yet Willis will still be missed in the locker room.
Pro Bowl cornerback Kenny Moore II wrote on Twitter, “Never take a great teammate for granted.” “From calling your name on your draft night to watching you grow into the person you are today. Happy retirement, I’m always in your corner 37. Love Bhai.”
Willis made an immediate impact after the former Michigan State captain was picked by general manager Chris Ballard in the fourth round of the 2019 draft.
He started nine games and made 71 tackles that season. In his final two seasons, injuries forced Willis to miss eight of 33 games, but he continued to play a key role in the rapidly improving defense. He finished his career with 219 tackles, 11 pass breakups, four interceptions, 3 1/2 sacks and one fumble recovery.
But Reich expects Willis to be even more successful after football.
“Khari’s character, leadership and professionalism will be remembered in our locker rooms as will his play on Sunday,” Reich said in a statement. “I admire and respect his decision to transition into the next phase of his life and ministry and my prayers will always be with him.”
More Associated Press NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL And https://twitter.com/AP_NFL