- Erik McKinney, ESPN Staff Writer
In the battle for ESPN 150 safety Priest Willis (Tempe, Ariz./Marcos De Niza), the Nebraska Cornhuskers were able to launch the first offensive this past weekend, as coach Bo Pelini's program hosted the 6-foot-2, 199-pound athlete on an official visit.
"It was really fun," Willis said of his first trip to the Nebraska campus. "Outside of football, there's really not much to do, but the feeling at the game was overwhelming and the tunnel walk was pretty awesome."
Nebraska's fans certainly made an impression on the recruit ranked No. 58 in the country.
"I know their fans travel well and are very loyal," Willis said. "That's definitely a football town. All there was was Nebraska football. The stadium was packed hours before the game and there were fans everywhere. They are very loyal and they knew all the recruits names during the tunnel walk."
Willis said he didn't have much time to review film with the Nebraska coaches, but he said the coaches conveyed to him how he would fit into the defense, at nickel cornerback, outside corner and safety. Overall, the trip was a success for Willis and the Cornhuskers, as the safety's opinion of Nebraska didn't change.
"They were already up there for me," he said. "This was an official visit I always wanted to take. They're still high on my list."
One change for Willis will come this weekend, as he will not take an official visit to LSU for the Tigers' game against Alabama. With so many visitors scheduled for the game, the LSU coaches wanted Willis to come in on a weekend when they could spend more one-on-one time with him. He will likely push his official visit to Nov. 16, when LSU hosts Ole Miss, although that date isn't firm yet. If the LSU visit is postponed again, Willis will head to Los Angeles that weekend, on an unofficial visit to UCLA, as the Bruins host crosstown rival USC.
He does have one official visit set, as he will travel to Virginia on Nov. 9, when the Miami Hurricanes come to town. The Cavaliers have been in the picture for some time, as Willis' cousin Demeitre Brim is a true freshman outside linebacker at Virginia.
While he is hesitant to list any leaders or top schools, Willis said he will likely narrow his list soon. But his focus is on his high school team at the moment. Last Friday, he helped the Padres finish the season 9-1, after knocking off previously undefeated Laveen (Ariz.) Cesar Chavez in the regular-season finale. Marcos De Niza will now enter the playoffs on a five-game winning streak, thanks in large part to Willis.
With coaches from Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, LSU, UCLA and USC in attendance, the Padres were trailing 13-10 at halftime and an opposing wide receiver was giving them fits. After Willis was moved over to go one-on-one against him the rest of the game, the receiver didn't catch a single pass, as Marcos De Niza cruised to a 45-27 victory. Willis finished the game with 8 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 4 pass deflections and 1 interception.
That kind of production in front of coaches looking to sign the defensive standout ensures that Willis' recruitment won't slow down anytime soon.