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Jermaine Bishop Jr. of Willis
WILLIS HIGH SCHOOL HAS BECOME A HOTBED FOR NEXT LEVEL TALENT IN THE SPAN OF THE PAST FOUR YEARS, WHICH HAS THE WILDKATS PRIMED FOR A BIG YEAR.
While some athletes have moved in from other schools, their home-grown talent have deep roots. Much like DJ Lagway, Jr., Jermaine Bishop, Jr. grew up a Willis Wildkat – going to games and loving the purple and black.
“A lot of family members have influenced my love for football,” he said. “I started playing very young and have never looked back. My family and community has been very supportive.”
Speaking of his family, his father Jermaine Bishop was a standout athlete for Willis, and his cousin, Michael Bishop, was a Wildkat legend. The Bishop name put Willis on the map, especially when Michael thrived at Kansas State and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1998.
For Jermaine, living up to the Bishop family name is an honor. The life-lessons learned from his Dad and cousins inspire his game today.
“It’s a huge honor to rep the Bishop name,” he said. “There’s always a target on your back when you have that family legacy, but I just embrace it. They’ve taught me the right mindset and work ethic to do this at the next level.”
As a freshman on varsity, Bishop burst onto the scene winning the District 13-6A Defensive Newcomer of the Year. He tied for first in the district interceptions and subsequently blew up this Spring as a high- level recruit.
“Last year was a great experience... truly, it was just a blessing,” Bishop said. “The guys welcomed me onto varsity and helped me start my journey.”
After his freshman year, Bishop, Jr. saw his recruitment explode. He picked up a dozen Power-5 offers in the offseason.
What has the rise to stardom been like for the rising sophomore?
“It’s honestly a dream come true,” Bishop said. “It’s just a blessing for my family and myself. I try to stay humble, keep a good mindset and just be a guy the younger players can look up to.”
Much like the other Bishops who came before him.
Willis High DB Jermaine Bishop Jr.
Despite missing out on the postseason this past Fall, there is plenty of upside for Willis High’s football program.
And it's not just super-QB DJ Lagway - the five-star Florida commit.
Freshman DB Jermaine Bishop Jr. emerged as a defensive playmaker in 2022 and should have an immense impact on the future of the Wildcats.
At just 15 years old, Bishop displayed flashes of greatness on the field, showing his ball-hawking ability with five interceptions -- one of which he returned for a TD. He's physical too. He had 35 solo tackles.
“It’s been great playing for Willis,” said Bishop. “My guys have welcomed me to the program -- pretty nice. Some of the older guys even took me under their wing. I plan on working on my craft as much as I can in the offseason, trying to get extra hours every day and keeping God with me the entire way.”
Postgame Interview w/ Bishop and teammate, junior Atavian Friend, after their win against College ParkJackson DiPasquale (Vype)
Furthermore, Bishop is a multi-sport athlete -- running track and playing hoops.
“Football is for the physicality, getting stronger and bigger,” Bishop said. “With basketball, I can work on my IQ and patience. Track will work for the wind. I try to emphasize conditioning when I train since all sports incorporate conditioning. However, football is the sport I want to prioritize. The others just help me to get better.”
Bishop has a tremendous legacy -- the nephew of Michael Bishop, who essentially put Willis on the map. He starred at Kansas State, where he just missed out on a Heisman Trophy in 1998 (to UT’s Ricky Williams), was drafted by the New England Patriots in 1999, and played QB for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts from 2002 to 2008.
Willis Alum, and former pro QB, Michael Bishop Vype Photo Archive
However, that doesn’t serve as an inspiration for Jermaine Bishop Jr., who seeks to make a name for himself.
“He [Michael Bishop] really didn’t inspire me to play,” said Bishop. “But, that was a big name in my family and in Willis. My dad was, and still is, the main reason for my football career.”
The young man has big dreams and will be one step closer to achieving them when he puts the pads back on next fall.
“Some of my personal goals include graduating high school,” Bishop said. “From there, I intend to get an academic scholarship, get a scholarship for sports, make it through college, get closer to God and hopefully one day make it pro.”