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Friday, February 24, 2012
Priest Willis open to OU, taking his time

By Bob Przybylo

Defensive back Priest Willis (Tempe, Ariz./Marcos De Niza) is in no rush to attend junior days or make a college decision.

With the way colleges from across the country are flocking to him, he is justified in taking a calm approach to recruiting.

Willis, 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, is receiving interest from just about every major program in the nation and has offers from nearly 20 schools.

And as Oklahoma continues to surge out west because of the influence of defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and linebackers coach Tim Kish, it’s not a shock that the Sooners have joined the list of Willis’ offers.

Willis was offered by OU last week and the Sooners have piqued his interest.

“It’s something that I can’t really explain. It’s their program. There is just something different about OU,” Willis said. “I’ve loved watching them on television.”

Willis has only attended one junior day when he went to USC’s last week. He has a Trojans offer and has offers from eight Pac-12 schools.

Because of the Arizona connection with Stoops and Kish, the Sooners are quickly finding themselves an unofficial member of the conference. OU is not only targeting more West Coast recruits than ever before, but the Sooners are having success in getting the prospects to Norman, Okla.

Willis could be one of those kids, and he admits his previous relationship with Stoops and Kish is going to help in the process.

“It wasn’t a deep connection, but I know them and they know me,” Willis said. “It’s a good place to start, and we can move on from there.”

Willis can do a little bit of everything in the secondary. He had 55 tackles, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions in 2011. Some schools are looking at him as a safety, but he said the Sooners are one of several colleges that see him as a cornerback.

He knows OU has a winning tradition on the field but that’s not the only thing that matters to him.

“Their defense has produced a lot of talent and a lot of players have reached the NFL, but they’ve been successful in the classroom, too,” Willis said. “I’ve seen that they’ve had some academic All-Americans. That definitely gets me excited about the Sooners.”

Willis said the Oklahoma coaches said they plan to visit Willis in the spring. If everything works out, he would like to visit OU, but that are still a lot of details to work out.

The biggest reason Willis would fit in at OU? His physicality. Stoops loves physical corners, and Willis didn’t hesitate in saying that is what makes him stand out on the field.

He said it’s too early for a list of favorites and that he likes keeping his options open. He has also been offered by Oklahoma State, Michigan, Arkansas and Nebraska, among some of his non-West Coast offers.