"Two days ago, I talked to the [Kansas State] secondary coach," said Nate Willis. "He just said he liked the way I played. He thought I have the ability to match-up and cover the big receivers or the short, fast receivers. He said they liked my size and that I could play off, man, or in the nickel. They basically said they like my overall game at cornerback."
Willis, who played football at Pahokee High School in Florida in 9th and 10th grade, decided to concentrate on basketball as an upperclassman. After taking a year off after high school to weigh his options, he decided to return to football and landed at Tom Minnick's elite Arizona Western program.
"Arizona Western's a great school," Willis stated. "They get some of the country's best players and train them all the way to the top. Last year I was new to the position. I played wide receiver in high school. It was a learning experience. I felt I improved on my technique, my skill, and using my feet and hips effectively."
In his freshman season, Willis made 31 tackles, three interceptions, two pass breakups, a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble on a Matador team that went to the 2011 NJCAA Football Championship Game but fell to East Mississippi Community College. Willis also handled kick and punt return duties for the Matadors and took one back for a touchdown. After his breakout season, he began fielding Division 1 offers.
"I'm actually taking my first visit to USF on July 20th," said Willis. "If I make a commitment before the season it will be a soft one because I want to make all of my official visits. I'd like to visit all of the Big 12 schools that have offered me, but it will have to be after my season is over in December.
"I'm looking to be a part of a good program with great coaches who will teach me how to improve at the cornerback position and hopefully get to the next level."
Willis has three Big 12 offers from Kansas State, Iowa State, and Kansas. His other offers are from Indiana, Mississippi State, USF, Louisiana-Lafayette, Memphis, New Mexico, and South Alabama. He plans on making his decision close to Christmas so he can be with his family in Florida.
Willis has a cousin, Johnny Rutledge, who played in the NFL for the Cardinals and Broncos as well as the University of Florida. He'll have two season of eligibility in three years remaining when he graduates from Arizona Western in December.