Adaptability has Wisconsin Intrigued

Although primarily a physical, hard-hitting defensive end and linebacker, junior Mark Willis has excelled on the defensive side of the ball. Now, Willis is being asked to play two offensive positions for his high school team and the Badgers have taken notice.

No matter where you put Oak Park's Mark Willis, he is going to succeed.

Playing primarily at defensive end and seeing some time at linebacker, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Willis registered 51 tackles and averaged three sacks a game last season.

Now because of graduation and depth issues, Willis could bring his defensive prowess to the offensive side of the ball.

"After the season, they asked me to try offense because a lot of people have graduated now," Willis told Badger Nation. "It's going to be a whole different thing for me now. They liked the size, reach and jumping ability that I have. I am looking forward to seeing how it is getting hit."

What's even more impressive is that Willis could even see time playing as an offensive tackle, making him a truly versatile athlete.

"Yeah, isn't it crazy?" said Willis, who runs a 4.7 40 and sports a 3.6 GPA. "I just love the game. I am in good playing condition and whatever the coaches want me to do I'll do."

That passion that Willis brings is one of the reasons Wisconsin and defensive coach Randal McCray have shown a lot of interest in the Park Ridge, Illinois prospect. Coming up to one of Wisconsin's first spring practices of the season, Willis roamed the sidelines and, with his mother by his side, liked what Wisconsin was offering to incoming athletes.

"I sent them my tape and they sent me a letter telling me about their spring practices," Willis said. "I decided that I wanted to go and visit them to see what it was like. It was really nice. I really liked it."

Although no school has officially offered a scholarship offers, Willis has visited Illinois, Louisville, Michigan State, Ball State, Arizona and Southern Illinois in the past few weeks and continues to get mail from Michigan, Oregon, LSU, Oregon State and Tennessee.

"I know the scholarships are going to come in the future," Willis said. "I am trying to see each one in person and see if I like the coaches, environment and players."

While potentially playing four positions for Oak Park next season, Willis is being recruited primarily on the defensive side of the football, where his natural ability has shown in his ability to fire off the football and punish any unsuspecting player in his path.

"I see the whole field and I have the ability to run people down from sideline to sideline," he said. "I have good strength that allows me to get past the line. I want to increase my speed and get stronger in the summer to be even better."

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