Edna Karr (New Orleans, La.) standout defensive end Gerald Willis is now entering his fourth year of the recruiting process. The five-star prospect began hearing from colleges after his freshman year of high school when offers starting coming in from some of the top programs in the country.
With Willis now preparing for his final year of high school, the recruiting process has gotten fairly hectic, prompting Willis to let a family member deal with the everyday logistics of the process. This has been done so that Willis can focus on preparing for his senior season with the Cougars, especially now that he has cut his list of potential suitors down.
"My recruitment kind of slowed down a little bit because I've been trying to focus on my football season this spring and things like that," Willis told TSD. "My dad pretty much took over my recruitment and is talking to the coaches and everything. I haven't been doing a whole lot of that."
"I'm not ready to make a decision just yet, but I'm narrowing things down."
After originally considering USC as a school that he could potentially attend after high school, Willis ultimately reached the conclusion that it was just too far from home for comfort. Because of this, Willis has removed the Trojans from his top list of schools – a number that now sits at three, plus one school that has strong ties for Willis.
"The schools that I've been talking to the most over the last few years are LSU, Florida, Texas A&M, and Louisiana Tech," said Willis. "I have a top-three with the first ones and then I had to put Tech in the there because my old high school coach [Jabbar Juluke] is over there now."
Willis went in-depth with TSD regarding his top list of suitors and broke down everything that is standing out about each potential choice.
LSU: "LSU is in my backyard and I grew up watching them with my dad because we loved them growing up. As far as it goes, they are always going to be at the top. If I don't see anything better than them soon, I'm going to stay home and represent the boot."
Texas A&M: "They were on me early when coach Mike Sherman was there. It kind of fell off with the coaching change, but that is when Noel Ellis committed there. Ever since then, they have been at our school a lot and we have built a good relationship. I think coach Kevin Sumlin is a great guy that I could definitely play for and I could compete for a starting spot."
Florida: "LSU offered me first, but Florida offered me second after my freshman year of high school. They have been on me early and I have interest in them because of the communication that they have maintained with me. I went up there with a bunch of teammates my freshman year and that's when they started recruiting me because of my performance at camp. I've been staying in contact with their recruiter for a long time."
Louisiana Tech: "My high school coach is a recruiter at Louisiana Tech. They aren't big-time or anything, but my old coach has done so much for me in my life that I have to put them in my top-four. I know he has my best interests in mind on and off the field."
It is evident that LSU has been there all along for Willis, however, the talented prospect explained that things continue to improve with the Bayou Bengals for him.
"Everything is still the same," said Willis. "I've known the LSU staff for the last few years and everything is on the up and up with them. My dad has been talking with coach Brick [Haley] a lot and everything is looking really good with them. The communication hasn't slowed down at all."
LSU's Frank Wilson has taken the lead in the recruitment of Willis for the Tigers. Over the last couple of years there have been relationships built that Willis feels will last a very long time. As a result of this, Willis explained that how close he is with a college staff would definitely play a big part in his decision-making process.
"It will definitely play an important part in my decision," said Willis. "The relationship that we have built over the last few years is great. They recruited my brother and I knew them then. Coach Frank is really close with my dad, but LSU is in my backyard and in my home state."
Even though the relationships he has built with the LSU staff stand out to Willis, he explained that he doesn't currently have a leader in his recruitment.
"I don't really have a leader because I've been dealing with those schools an equal amount," said Willis. "I have been dealing with LSU a little bit more than most because of our relationships with them. At the end of the day, I try not to let that cloud my judgment because my dad and coach Frank will still be friends regardless."
Earlier this spring, Willis elected to make the trip up to Alabama to watch the Crimson Tide go through their annual spring game. The decision by Willis caused a lot of people in the recruiting world to scratch their heads, especially since LSU's spring game took place on the same day.
According to Willis, there was one reason for his visit to Alabama and it had nothing to do with recruiting.
"I was actually just going to the game to go to support my brother, Landon Collins,' said Willis. "He has been working so hard for a starting spot and I wanted to go up there to support him. It wasn't about recruiting or anything, but they tried to make it about that up there. I was just going to support him and it just happened to be at Alabama."
While he didn't get to see LSU go through their spring game in person, Willis has had a chance to check out some highlights of the Tigers from the game. He has also been closely watching one current Tiger in particular.
"I saw bits and pieces and highlights of the game," said Willis. "I saw that the d-line looked young because of what they lost and I watched [LSU junior defensive tackle] Anthony Johnson a lot because we are very close friends and we grew up together. We will just stay tuned to see what they look like this fall, but they should be great."
Willis has known Johnson for quite some time and the two still speak regularly. Recently, their discussions have gotten a little bit more specific about the possibility of Willis heading to LSU next year.
"If he leaves LSU then he better give me his number if I go there because I wear the same number that he did in high school," said Willis. "That is something that we have already discussed."
Originally listed at 6-3 260 pounds, Willis informed TSD that he is now up to 6-4 270 pounds. This is something that has raised questions about where he will line up along the line in college.
"If it is up to me, I would like to stay on the edge because I have been there since I was four," said Willis. "My dad was my coach and I've always played that position. That's what I'm used to, but I could also play inside. It depends on what the colleges want me to do."
Aside from LSU's Frank Wilson being very influential in the recruitment of Willis, there is also another person recruiting the standout end to Baton Rouge that isn't a member of the coaching staff. LSU commitment Donnie Alexander has already made it clear to him that he would like Willis to join him in Baton Rouge.
"Donnie plays on my side, so he better be my friend," Willis said with a laugh. "He always talks about what we are waiting on to make a decision. He doesn't pressure us, but he still tries to get us to come join him. I told him to stand by and stay tuned."
Now that he has his list of schools narrowed down, Willis knows when a final decision would be made public.
"I'm going to make my decision at the Under Armour Game, unless something dramatic changes or something," said Willis. "My friends, Devante Noil and Leonard Fournette, and I have been talking about committing at the same time."
The reason for the trio committing at the same time has to do with the idea that they would all like to attend the same school together.
"We always talk about playing together at the next level," said Willis. "We have all been close and playing together since we were little. Leonard goes to St. Augustine now, but it doesn't matter because we are so close. We have talked about it before and we all want to go to one school. I would love to play with those guys and hopefully it will work out."
With regards to visits that he may take in the coming months, Willis said that he isn't planning on taking part in any college camps because of prior commitments to national combines. He mentioned Florida State and Ole Miss as two potential visits this summer.
Willis also added that he plans to major in business in college. He is comfortable in saying that all schools under consideration for him have reputable business programs.
Willis opens up on recruitment
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