Southern Methodist University quarterback Justin Willis finds himself in a different situation than he found himself in this time last year.
Last summer he was coming off a spectacular freshman season where he was named Conference Freshman of the Year. He was the man, the leader of the Mustang offense with which he was very familiar.
A year later he finds himself with a new head coach and a new offense. Instead of being the man, he is working hard as a student of the game to become the man of June Jones' offense.
"I have put in so much time and work over the past two months," Willis told PonyStampede.com in an interview last week. "I have watched every clip of film and video I can get my hands on. I have studied what Colt Brennan did at Hawaii. I have also watched previous quarterbacks in this offense."
In other words, it's back to the classroom for Willis. He has become a student of the new offense, determined not to be behind come fall season. The athletic junior missed spring practice when Jones dismissed him from the team mainly for academic reasons. Willis has taken a different approach now.
"I plan on being ahead or even with everyone else when fall camp begins," Willis said. "If I accomplish that, I have accomplished a lot. My hard work will have paid off."
Willis is certainly not taking anything for granted. He is aware of the fact that Jones has never had an athletic running style quarterback as the leader of his offense and that is something that Willis plans on changing.
According to Willis, although accuracy is big for this new offensive system, the thing that appears most important is timing.
"In this offense everything is so much quicker, my reads, my throws everything," Willis said. "Everything is based on timing and decision making. The quarterback has to make a lot quicker decisions. There isn't much time to think about pulling it down and running it."
Even though Jones' quarterbacks of the past aren't known for running, Willis feels that he may be able to add a new dimension to the offensive system.
"If things do breakdown I can use my athletic ability to avoid the sack and make something positive happen," Willis said. "While that's not the priority in this offense, it's still something that can happen."
While accuracy may not be one of Willis' major strengths, it's an area that he has done extensive work on this spring and summer to improve.
"Coach Morrison and I have worked hand in hand on everything," Willis said. "We have looked at my fundamentals, my footwork, my throwing motion, everything. I have worked extremely hard on improving my accuracy and my timing. Those two things go hand in hand in this offensive system."
It's apparent that Willis is focused on one goal at this time.
"I plan on earning my starting position back," Willis said. "I didn't realize how important it was to be the leader of this team until I lost it. I won't be satisfied until I earn the starting role back and more importantly the leadership role back as well."