Big Man Wants Big Stage

Junior college transfer Jeff Wills is still getting used to Minnesota and a bigger campus, but taking it all in stride.

Jeff Wills likes to laugh. His favorite show is "Family Guy" and he likes to watch Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network, but he wasn't sure whether to laugh or shake his head in disbelief when he saw a student walking on the Twin Cities campus in shorts during a snowstorm.

"That threw me off completely," said the 6-foot-7 junior college transfer with a chuckle.

He has been slowly getting used to the shock of moving to Minnesota in the middle of the winter.

"It's a lot colder here," he said. But the native of Queens N.Y. does appreciate being in a metro area larger than Scranton, Penn.

"There's a lot more to do in Minneapolis than there is in Scranton," he said.

But he is also adjusting to the larger campus.

"It's huge," said the offensive tackle. "I got lost a couple times. I had class in Saint Paul, a night class, and I was walking around for a couple hours trying to find [the classroom] the first week."

The double takes this very large student gets when he walks around his new campus are nothing new.

"I get second and third looks. I'm used to it now, though," he said.

And when people talk to him the first thing they always ask is his shoe size.

"I wear a size 20," Wills said, which of course means that we had to ask, too. "I buy them on the internet."

Being on the big stage was the reason Wills came to Minnesota. The allure of huge crowds and the possibility of playing in a Rose Bowl were his top reasons for choosing Minnesota.

"Winning the Big Ten Championship and going to a Rose Bowl, that's what it's all about. That's why I came here," he said.

With winter drills over and students on spring break, the football team is getting some much-needed rest before they put on the pads and start hitting on March 24. When asked if he believed he would be the starting right tackle, Wills answered, "Yeah, hopefully."

"I got to learn the playbook and get adjusted to the system," Wills said, but a starting line won't be known until spring practice starts.

"I know Matt Carufel is the starting right guard for now," Wills replied.

This winter Wills was being heavily recruited by Alabama, but when the Crimson Tide decided to go in another direction, Tim Davis, the Gophers' new offensive line coach/running game coordinator, recommended that John Butler, who is in charge of recruiting in Pennsylvania, give Wills a look.

"He's the reason I came up here," Wills said of Coach Davis. "He seems like he knows what he's doing."

Wills is also excited about the new-look offense.

"They want to throw in more of a running attack – smash-mouth, power football," is how Wills described the offense. "[I] love to run the ball, every O-lineman does."

Note: Wills is majoring in Business and Marketing Education.

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