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Kahri Willis on Faith & Leadership

Khari Willis (PHOTO:  Duffy Carpenter)

Khari Willis (PHOTO: Duffy Carpenter)

It’s no secret that Khari Willis is one of #5 Michigan State’s unquestioned leaders heading into the 2018 season and the senior safety will help guide one of the most experienced and talented defensive units in the Big Ten this fall.

At the Big Ten Media Days earlier this week, Willis spoke to reporters on a number of topics regarding the upcoming season, including his faith and how that impacts his leadership role with the Spartans as they look to build off of a 10-3 finish in 2018.

While he grabs headlines notoriety for his accomplishments on the football field, Willis said that for him, it starts with his faith and focusing on being a man of a high character first and foremost.

“My faith to me is a personal journey,” he said. “Along this road of faith, I’ve had a lot of ups and truthfully, I’ve had some downs as well. But it’s something that if I stick to, I’ll become better and better and better at what I’m doing. Faith to me is important, believing in something you can’t see, especially in this dark world, something that you can’t see with your eyes and especially when you may not always want to believe or want to do the right thing, sometimes it’s a hard thing to do. But I feel my faith is something that keeps me grounded and keeps me honed in on who I am.”

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Willis has had the respect of his teammates and has been regarded as a leader since he arrived as a freshman in 2015 and has been a calming and reliable personality in the locker room in his time in East Lansing.

“I’ve always looked at Khari as my main leader and that’s why he’s a captain,” senior running back L.J. Scott said of Willis. “Khari’s a great dude - I was telling another guy when Khari and I first got here, we clicked so quickly. He’s all about God and growing up I used to go to church, but I kind of got away from it. I ran into Khari and he put that back into my head and it’s like, ‘Man bro, I’m so happy I met you.’ He’s a great inspiration, he’s a great leader - anything you need, he’ll be right there.”

Willis said that while he’s appreciative of the fact he’s held in such high regard by his teammates, he feels that his teammates, including Scott, has had a similar impact on himself personally, which is why Michigan State has a close-knit team from top to bottom.

"I appreciate it, but I think it's a two-way street," he said. "I think L.J. and his personality has impacted me in multiple different ways. One of the things I've learned with faith is that there are more similarities with faith that there are differences and I feel that if you can just ground these similarities then you can just grow. I always tell them, I don't want to know your sins, I don't want to know you do, I just want to know that you're good, that you're solid, your head is on straight and that you're growing as a person. I feel like they tell me the same thing, I don't know what you do, I don't need to understand that, I just need to understand that we have an understanding of the word and that's something we can talk about and something we can grow with."

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