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Saturday, February 23, 2013
Texas visit impresses Watch List DE Willis

By Max Olson

Gerald Willis III knew his brother Landon Collins had taken an official visit to Texas back in 2011 before signing with Alabama.

The ESPN Watch List defensive end had heard good things about the program, but he took in the Longhorns’ junior day on Saturday because he wanted to see it for himself.

Gerald Willis
Watch List defensive end Gerald Willis says he'll visit Texas again in the summer.
Willis received an official offer from Texas during the unofficial visit, and he couldn’t have been more impressed by how his day in Austin went.

“Everything was nice. Everything was real nice,” he said. “I learned about the tradition and the strong tradition they have at Texas. I saw the good facilities and got to hang out with Mack Brown. It was nice, a nice trip.”

The New Orleans Edna Karr standout made the trip with his father, coach and a friend and said the entire experience exceeded his expectations.

One of the day’s highlights was getting to watch a Texas spring practice. Willis enjoyed getting to watch how defensive line coaches Oscar Giles and Bo Davis operate.

“The tempo was real good,” Willis said. “They did a lot of things that my school does. It was real nice to watch them practice and watch it hands-on with the defensive line coach and defensive end coach. It was good to see the way they practice.”

While Giles, Davis and Larry Porter all spent time with Willis, it was his meeting with coach Mack Brown that left a major impression.

“Oh man, he was an awesome guy,” Willis said. “He’s a stand-up guy. He’s very to the point and he tries to sell you on your dreams. I think he’s an outstanding coach.”

The 6-foot-3, 260-pound end has shown serious interest in LSU, Florida, Alabama and Texas A&M. Is Texas joining that list after this weekend?

“Most definitely,” Willis said. “It’s a great university with great tradition and I would love to be part of that. They’re one of my top choices.”

Willis was not joined on the visit by Edna Karr receiver Speedy Noil, who stayed home to compete in a track meet. Noil already had an offer from UT after an impressive showing at last year’s summer camp.

While Willis already has plenty big-time offers, he was glad Texas officially joined the race on Saturday.

“I don’t take anything for granted,” he said. “I appreciate the offer and I put in that hard work and grinded to get these. I appreciated the offer. We’re going to keep in touch and keep some communication going.”

Willis said no school is in front at this point in his recruitment. He’s going to sit down with his father soon and plan out his next unofficial visits. Florida State and USC are two possibilities for his next trip outside the state.

As he rode him from his visit to Texas, Willis didn’t hesitate when asked if he’ll be making a return trip to Austin in the future.

“Oh yeah, most definitely,” Willis said. “Anybody that steps on that campus and checks it out won’t have a negative thing to say about Texas. It’s a beautiful campus.

“I didn’t see anything that wasn’t nice. Everybody was nice. I’m looking forward to getting back out there sometime this summer.”