2011 Intro: Airyn Willis

HIGH POINT, N.C. --- Taking advantage of Airyn Willis' game-breaking ability, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound athlete will be moved to quarterback for his senior season.

"He's the one kid we have that on any given play can take it to the house," Southwest Guilford head coach Scott Schwarzer said. "… We have to get the ball in his hands."

With Willis now under center, Schwarzer will slightly alter his offense. Southwest will employ a spread option that will rely heavily on the option.

"Airyn is able to run [various types of options]," Schwarzer said. "He's by no means a drop back passer, but he throws the ball well enough to be effective."

Last season, Willis started at free safety recording 23 tackles and three interceptions. Because of his offensive responsibilities, he will play defensive back situationally this coming season.

"When [our opponent] crosses the 50-yard line, [Willis] is probably going in at free safety because he can cover a lot of ground," Schwarzer said. "There's a chance we have a kid who could work out at free safety; then [Willis] could be a cover corner for us in passing situations."

Last off-season, Willis practiced primarily at wide receiver but saw some snaps at quarterback. However, when the season began, Willis was in Southwest's backfield at tailback.

"We were more of a Pro-I team [on offense] last year," Schwarzer said. "We moved him to tailback because he was the one kid we had who could hit a seam and break it."

In five games, Willis rushed for 681 yards and 11 touchdowns on 113 carries (6-yard average).

Midway through the season, though, Willis was moved back to wide receiver.

"We couldn't throw the ball and we had some younger kids really step up, as far as learning how to play the running back position," Schwarzer said.

Willis ended the season with 36 receptions for 581 yards and five touchdowns.

Because of his versatility, Willis is primarily being recruited as an athlete. Schools like East Carolina and Notre Dame project him as a wide receiver, while North Carolina likes him at cornerback and Georgia Tech is recruiting him as a quarterback.

"I think in general, [he's being recruited for] receiver first," Schwarzer said. "But it's one of those things that if he doesn't work out there, they'll find another position for him."

Schwarzer believes that on the collegiate level Willis needs the ball in his hands.

"He has the ability to take a five-yard play and turn it into a 50-yard play," Schwarzer said. "He's got better than average speed, but he has tremendous feet… He's a kid that if he touches the ball enough, he's going to make big plays."

Willis has received scholarship offers from East Carolina, Georgia Tech, NC State, and Wisconsin. Outside of those schools, he's being pursued by Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.

Last October, Willis verbally committed to East Carolina, the first school to offer him.

"East Carolina was one of my top options, at first," Willis said. "It's always been one of the schools I liked growing up... I just liked how when I went down there, I just really fit in down there."

Although published reports state otherwise, Willis remains a Pirate commitment.

"I am committed still," Willis said. "I never did de-commit – I don't know what that [published report] is talking about. I am still committed, but I'm still keeping my options open."

Keeping options open means Willis will visit other schools. He recently visited UNC and will attend Duke's and NC State's Junior Days. He also hopes to visit Georgia Tech in the future.

Airyn Willis Profile

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