Willis heard of Penn State's renewed interest in him as a defensive back from his high school coaches at the Marist School (Atlanta, Ga.) in early November, as Boston College head man Frank Spaziani was rumored to be on the way out. And a month later, he is.
While Willis stresses that he remains committed to the Eagles, he is willing to look around, and the main suitors are Roof's Nittany Lions.
Boston College is definitely one of the schools I want to go to. It's the school I want to go to. But with a new coach, it could mean a different philosophy, Willis said Saturday, a day after his Marist side moved onto the Georgia state semi-finals. I'm still committed to Boston College, but it depends on the coach they bring in and the direction he wants to take the program.
Marist prolonged its 2012 season Friday by scrapping past Stockbridge in the Georgia AAAA third round, 15-7. It was a game where Willis, who played both running back and defensive back, said his team fought hard. Roof was in attendance to check out Willis in person.
It was a tough, hard-fought game. Stockbridge was 11-1, and they did a really good job containing me in the backfield, Willis said. We didn't have much success on offense, but we scored when we needed to, and the defense played great.
Willis is being recruited as a defensive back by Penn State, and at 5-foot-9, 176 pounds, his speed and instinct give him an advantage on the field.
I have a knack for making big plays in key moments on both sides of the ball, Willis said. From watching my highlights, I think I have good speed to separate from guys, and make guys miss on offense and stop them on defense.
The senior expressed interest in visiting University Park at some point, though he and Roof have not laid out a date yet with his team still in the state championship hunt. It's a visit he never expected to make.
Coach [Bill] O'Brien seems to have done a tremendous job keeping energy in the football program, and with all that happened, they bounced back and had a great year, Willis said. I never thought Penn State would be recruiting me, but after the coaching change [at Boston College] that changed.
Willis will continue to evaluate his options, which rest on the Eagles and Nittany Lions at this point. While Penn State has ground to make up, Willis is certainly interested.
When I think about Penn State, I think about Coach O'Brien and the great job he did with bringing the energy and not allowing anything to kill the program, Willis said. They had a packed house, and good season. But it depends on what's going on at Boston College. I have to see what coaches stay, and how it plays out from here.