"Coach Ball told me that the new head coach (Todd Graham) is looking for players with high character and that's why ASU offered me. Coach told me that he heard a lot of good things about me, how I stay humble and not get big headed and that is the type of players they want in the program."
Ball, who is slated to coach the Sun Devil defensive backs visited with the 6-2 203 Priest Willis today and described to him why he is being coveted by the maroon and gold.
"He said that he likes how big and how physical I am, but that I'm also fast to the ball," Willis described. "Coach said that he can see me as a big cornerback in their system. He told me that I reminded him of some very good corners that he has coached in the past. It doesn't matter to me if I play corner or safety because I'm just working now to become the best athlete I can be, and whatever position my coaches want me to play in – I will play it. I'll even play linebacker if they want me."
The junior certainly made his presence known out of the 300 plus 2013 prospects that attended the national Semper Fi combine earlier this month in Phoenix. Not only did he shine in the one on one segments and position drills, but he was also clocked running a 4.54 in the 40-yard dash which put him in the top five fastest combine participants. As a result, Willis was already invited to play in the 2013 Semper Fi Bowl.
"Coaches at the combine told me that they couldn't believe how big and fast I was for my position," Willis recalled. "They really liked my game and I good feedback from them on how to improve."
Even prior to that combine, ASU wasn't the only program that has taken notice of Willis.
In 2011 Willis posted 56 tackles, eight passes defended, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries for the 9-3 Padres who were eliminated in the second round of the Division II playoffs. As a result he has already had a few BCS teams initiate contact with him.
"Oklahoma State has been talking to me a lot and coach Gundy sent me a hand-written letter telling me that he can wait to come out and watch me," Willis commented. "Nebraska has been talking a lot to me too. University of Miami, Colorado, Boise State, and Virginia are also recruiting me.
"I'm just keeping all my options open now. I want to go to a school where I can be an engineering or marketing major, a program that has a great fan base and that has coaches that go to bat for their players. It would be nice to stay close to home, but I can also see myself going out of state. It's just a blessing to be in my position seeing all these programs reaching out to me and I just have to keep everyone in the loop because it's early. I'll start to narrow things down in the spring."
Willis played as a freshman at Phoenix St. Mary's but transferred out of that school at the end of the year which forced him to sit out his sophomore season. As one of Marcos de Niza's standouts in 2011, Willis is looking to achieve even more success although he's not looking for personal accolades.
"All I want is for our team to win a state championship," Willis stated. "I just want to know what that feels like. Everyone here is working really hard to have a better season next year because we did fall short last year.
"We just want to get over the hump and if we do I know that all the (personal recognition) will come because of my personal ability. But I'm so glad I transferred to Marcos, I love it here and I just want to win a championship with my teammates."