Road to the NFL Draft: Whitney Mercilus

Former Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus has been training at the Athletes' Performance Institute in Phoenix, Arizona in preparation for the NFL Combine and Draft.

Former Illinois defensive tackle Whitney Mercilus didn't start playing football until his freshman year of high school, but quickly discovered his talent at the sport.

Mercilus was a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school and ultimately decided to enroll at the University of Illinois, where he enjoyed a successful collegiate career.

Now that he is entering the next chapter of his football career, Mercilus is thankful for the support he has from the Illinois family. "It's definitely very important to me," he said. "When I'm on twitter or facebook, a lot of fans talk to me and they're 100% me and proud that they can support me in this NFL Draft."

For the past two months, Mercilus has been training at the Athletes' Performance Institute in Phoeniz, Arizona, in preparation for the NFL Combine and his pro day.

FOX Sports NEXT was able to catch up with Mercilus and discuss his intense training schedule, his Fighting Illini career, and more:

<a href="http://msn.foxsports.com/video?videoid=3a3fc70a-cea7-3962-64c0-0f399b3686b8&amp;src=v5:embed::uuids" target="_new" title="Road to NFL Draft - Whitney Mercilus">Video: Road to NFL Draft - Whitney Mercilus</a>

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