May 29, 2009

Vols, Gators moving in on Willis

Things are getting interesting in the recruitment of Brandon Willis, who recently said Tennessee is making a push for him and then in a recent interview with a Rivals.com affiliate site said Florida has pushed to the front.

Willis' father confirmed the news that the Gators have moved way up the list. The Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes defensive end also said Tennessee is getting more involved and he's interested to see how the new staff performs in Knoxville.

"With the new coaching staff, Lane Kiffin, Monte Kiffin, coach (Ed) Orgeron, they're all pretty upbeat coaches and they're really good guys, too," Willis said. "Coach O is a really good coach. That's what's drawing me to Tennessee. He's showing a lot of interest.

"All I can do is sit back and watch to see how they do. That's real big to see how the program goes. Everybody says it's going good but nobody knows until they play Florida and LSU and Alabama. That's how you compare your program to somebody else."

Florida State has not budged from his list of favorites and the Seminoles should remain a major player for Willis, who finished with 144 tackles and 13 sacks last season. Rivals.com rates him as the sixth-best strong-side defensive end and No. 46 prospect in the 2010 class. Defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins is recruiting him for Florida State and the two have a good relationship.

North Carolina is also staying in the picture and Willis, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound recruit, cites his relationship with associate head coach John Blake as the reason.

"I'm not really worried about staying at home but I have a lot of interest in North Carolina," Willis said. "John Blake is a really good coach. He has a lot of history. You want to go to a place where the coaches will further develop you in your technique and stuff like that and help you learn the most."

Georgia, Florida State and North Carolina are listed as his top three schools but Willis said he doesn't have a top three at this point. Count Florida and Tennessee on his list now as well because those two SEC powerhouses have emerged in recent weeks. Willis said he plans to visit California and UCLA in the next few weeks and that could shake up his list as well.

"In about two weeks or three weeks, I'm going to go out there," Willis said. "We just finished spring ball. I have big hopes. Everybody says California is nice. I've never been out there before. It could change a lot of things. It could help a school or hurt a school. We're going to see."

Academics is also going to play a big role for Willis, who said he's interested in engineering and architecture and every school he's looked at so far has at least some classes in that department. It could play a factor when decision time comes around.

"Most of them that I like have engineering so it hasn't been difficult for me," Willis said. "At least they have some type of engineering classes so as long as they have them. There isn't not one that I like now that doesn't have them so I haven't had any problems."

Notre Dame, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Wake Forest, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Alabama and Clemson have also offered Willis, who is a teammate of top running back recruit Marcus Lattimore and standout defensive end Corey Miller at Byrnes.


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