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Thursday, May 9, 2013
ESPN 150 DT Willis ready for visits

By Max Olson

Now that spring ball has started, ESPN 150 defensive tackle Gerald Willis III has been inundated with interest from college recruiters visiting New Orleans Edna Karr High School. He expected that.

That’s why, even if he’s comfortable with naming his top four schools, his list remains a fluid one. New schools are working hard to get in the mix, and Willis is ready to hit the road for more visits this summer.

Gerald Willis
Gerald Willis III has a top four of LSU, Texas A&M, Florida and Louisiana Tech.
The nation’s third-ranked defensive tackle and No. 32 prospect doesn’t hesitate to name his top four publicly: LSU, Texas A&M, Florida and Louisiana Tech. He’s high on each school, but Willis is willing to change that list at any moment.

“I’m wide open right now,” he said. “I’ve narrowed it down to a top four, but I’m not going to be disrespectful and not talk to college coaches if they come. That’s the least I can do if they’re offering, I can see what they have to offer.”

The surprise member of that list might be Louisiana Tech, though it really isn’t if you know Willis. The Bulldogs’ hiring of Edna Karr coach Jabbar Juluke as an assistant in December made a serous impression on the coach's former players.

“I guess it never feels like he’s recruiting me because I’ve known him so long,” Willis said. “I’m going to go visit and all that stuff. They have a plan for me and Coach Juluke has done so much for me in my life. I’m going to check it out.”

A trip to Ruston is one of many on tap for the summer for the 6-foot-3, 261-pound lineman. Willis said he will not be participating in any school-run camps -- only The Opening and Rivals100 All-Star Challenge -- but that won’t stop him from checking out some schools he has never visited.

“My dad said we’re probably going to visit a couple more just to see what’s out there,” Willis said. “We’ve been to so many, but we’ll catch a few. He wants to check out Florida State, we’ll check out Ole Miss and we definitely want to get out to the West Coast and see USC and UCLA this year.”

FSU, Ole Miss, USC and Texas have been working especially hard this spring to climb into Willis’ top five, but there are countless other schools that have visited Willis at school. He’s got more options than he’d ever expected.

That being said, through this process Willis has found he’s more and more intrigued by the possibility of going away from home. Florida and Texas A&M are six to eight hours from New Orleans, he said, but he's becoming more willing to check out faraway powerhouses.

“I never really gave thought to it, really,” Willis said. “I never put thought on going out of town, but I’m getting to my senior year and it’s opening my eyes a little more to other schools. I’ll check them out. You never know what’s out there. I’m just trying to find the best fit for me.”

What about staying home and going to LSU? That’s where most have predicted Willis will ultimately sign. He shrugs off that notion.

Willis is hoping to make his announcement at the Under Armour All-America Game in January. A lot can change before then, and he’s paying no attention to the local pressure to play for the Tigers.

“Every now and then I might sneak a look, but I’m not allowed to look at any of [the predictions],” Willis said. “I made a promise to my dad that I wasn’t going to look at all that. He doesn’t want my head to get filled with a lot of negativity in my recruitment.

“As far as LSU being my favorite, of course they’re going to be one of my favorites. They’re in my backyard. I have a strong bond with the recruiting coordinator and my dad and him grew up friends. Of course they’re going to be up there. But at the end of the day it’s not set in stone, because it might not be a great fit for me. That’s why I’m taking it slow.”