Willis 'Excited' to Return

It's official. Brandon Willis has signed his scholarship paperwork and will transfer back into North Carolina.

"It's a bittersweet feeling," Willis said on Monday afternoon. "I don't like being with a team and then leaving. You don't want to leave people that you've made relationships with.

"But it is good that I'm going back home and it's good that I'm doing it for the right reasons in my heart. So I'm excited to move forward in my future. I'm excited to be back close to my family and friends.

"Hopefully this waiver will get cleared and it would make it even better."

Originally, Willis enrolled at UNC in January '10, attending classes at UNC in the 2010 spring semester and two sessions of summer school. He transferred to UCLA two weeks into Carolina's fall training camp on Aug. 19 to be closer to the job his father took. That transfer forced the defensive lineman to sit out the 2010 season. He decided to transfer back to be closer to his ill grandmother.

Willis will finish up with classes at UCLA, which is on the quarters schedule, this Friday.

"We're taking finals right now," Willis said. "After this Friday, I'm good to return."

Willis will enroll into UNC for the first summer semester in May. In the meantime, he'll be with his grandmother, who lives in Burlington, N.C.

"I'll be training on my own," Willis said. "I'm excited to be there for [my grandmother] if she needs me and spend time with her, which I don't normally get to do, because of football. It's good that I'll have this time to spend with her."

UNC begins spring practices on March 16. While in Burlington, Willis hopes to be permitted to attend UNC's practices.

"Right now, we're trying to see what compliance will allow me to do," Willis said. "Right now, the coaches are looking at that for me. If I can attend anything with the team, I'm there."

Once he returns to N.C., Willis will begin working on the waiver that UNC will submit to the NCAA requesting he be declared immediately eligibility for competition for the 2011 season. If the waiver is granted, he will have four years of eligibility remaining.

"We're getting information about [the waiver] right now," Willis said. "We're getting all the documents ready so that when I come there, I can sit down with them and do the waiver."

On Monday morning Willis spoke to UNC's newly hired defensive line coach, Joe Robinson.

"I liked him," Willis said. "He's a good guy. He has coached with some of the coaches I've been around before. He seems really cool. I'm excited to get there."

Willis played most of his prep career at Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes at defensive end, but was recruited by most schools, including UNC, to play defensive tackle.

"I'll play whatever [UNC] wants me to play, to be honest," Willis said. "I think it will be D-tackle. A lot of people see me as a ‘tweener. However they want to use me, I'm good."

Tar Heel head coach Butch Davis said UNC was understanding of his situation to leave and now to return.

"Brandon lost his mother in high school and is very close with his grandmother, who lives in Burlington and is battling health issues," Davis said Monday. "He and his father wanted to move back to the East coast to be with her. There were no hard feelings when Brandon originally left and when he inquired about the possibility of returning, we welcomed him back."

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