BATON ROUGE, La. -- With the ever-increasing prominence of its reputation as "DBU," it's no surprise LSU continues to garner interest from defensive back prospects.
The Tigers' appeal knows no geographic boundaries, as they proved this past week in extending a scholarship offer to Priest Willis (Tempe, Ariz./Marcos De Niza).
Despite being based in Arizona, Willis said he is looking at programs all across the country, and LSU definitely falls into a watch list that includes teams in the SEC, Big Ten, Big XII and Pac-12.
"I'm interested in any school. I just want to find the best situation for me," Willis said.
As unusual as it might be for LSU to land a prospect from the West Coast, Willis said he's unconcerned by distance when it comes to making his college choice. Although he's lived in Arizona most of his life, Willis' mother is from Wisconsin.
"Location is not a problem for me," he said. "I've got family everywhere. I've got family in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, Alabama, Florida, California … location is nothing."
That's good news for LSU, who called Willis to offer a scholarship last week. Willis said the coaching staff had heard rave review about his abilities.
"I could tell they were a great coaching staff, and I was just really glad I got the opportunity to talk to them and get a scholarship offer," he said.
It's safe to say Willis has become familiar with LSU, despite his location. Living in Tempe, Willis said he couldn't help but take notice of former LSU standout and current Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, who earned a Pro Bowl selection in his rookie year.
Willis said he's looking at LSU on its own merits, however, and not just its successful alums.
"I don't even think about that," he said. "I just think about the program itself, what have they done in the past years, and academically what have they done with their student-athletes."
Willis said he has talked to LSU recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson, who highlighted the junior's physical attributes. Willis checks in at about 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, fitting him right into the mold of big, physical defensive backs to come through LSU recently.
"They just said they liked big, physical guys like me," he said. "I'm very versatile, and they can't just put me at corner, they can put me at safety. They can move me around, and so I have a higher stock value for them."
To keep that stock value up, Willis said the next 10 months will be all about self-improvement.
"Get in the gym and go 100 percent," he said on his plans for the future. "I need to get with people and work on my technique -- stay in the gym and work harder. If you go hard in the gym, that stuff will translate to the field."
With the offer in hand, Willis said he hopes he can find the time to make a trip to Baton Rouge in the spring or summer. If he can manage the long trip from Arizona to Louisiana, he said he will be sure to come, but he doesn't have any definite plans.
"We'll just have to figure something out," he said. "Right now, it's still early in the process and you don't know what could happen."