Mercilus was a three-star recruit coming out of Garfield High School in Akron, Ohio. He played defensive end early in his career and spent his collegiate career at the University of Illinois from 2009-11.
A breakout season for Mercilus in his junior year put him on the map. He led the nation in sacks (16) and forced fumbles (9), leading to a first-team All-Big 10 selection. Mercilus was a unanimous first-team All-American along with winning the 2011 Bill Willis Award.
The Texans selected Mercilus with the 26th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. His tenure with the Texans has seen him move to the outside linebacker position. Mercilus signed a four-year, $26 million contract extension with the organization in 2015 and has 38.5 sacks total.
Off the field, Mercilus puts effort into his WithMerci Foundation. The foundation provides services for families of children with disabilities and special needs. He recently held an event in Houston that helped raise money for children to receive school supplies.