Former Illini Rookie Devon Witherspoon Selected to the Pro Bowl

IlliniGuys Staff

January 3rd, 2023

Devon Witherspoon courtesy Weartv.com

Former Illini All-American Devon Witherspoon has been named to the Pro Bowl; the NFL revealed on Wednesday. Witherspoon is the first player since Dick Butkus to complete his Illini career and then earn a spot in the Pro Bowl as a rookie in the following season.

Witherspoon is one of the leading contenders for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He leads all rookies and ranks fifth in the league with 16 passes defensed, and he is also among the top rookies in tackles (68) and sacks (3.0).

Witherspoon joins J.C. Caroline (1956, Chicago Bears) and Dick Butkus (1965, Chicago Bears) as former Illini who made the Pro Bowl in their debut season. Former Illini Bob Trumpy also made the Pro Bowl as a rookie (1968, Cincinnati Bengals) but he finished his college career at Utah after transferring from Illinois.

Witherspoon, who is vying for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, is the second Seahawks rookie cornerback in two consecutive years to make the Pro Bowl after Riq Woolen last season. Witherspoon was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 4 after recording 2.0 sacks and a 97-yard interception return touchdown in a victory over the Giants, and he later received NFL Rookie of the Month honors for October.

Witherspoon is one of 10 rookies in franchise history to make the Pro Bowl, and only the third on defense along with Woolen and Lofa Tatupu. He has shown his explosiveness and versatility throughout his rookie season, which is why the Seahawks selected him with the No. 5 pick in the 2023 draft.

"He's playing exactly how we expected him to play," coach Pete Carroll said after Witherspoon’s impressive Week 4 performance. "This is why we drafted him, to be active and to show that he understands this game of football, and that he's an explosive, dynamic player… He's showing you who he is."

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