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February 19, 2013New Orleans Edna Karr defensive end Gerald Willis III is one of the top overall prospects in the country in the class of 2014 and he has an offer list to back up that claim.
Ranked No. 42 on the Rivals 100, Willis is already holding scholarship offers from the likes of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Miami, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M and Southern Cal. He's a player that will likely have unlimited options when it comes time to sort through the recruiting process and in recent weeks Willis has started to evaluate his options.
The 6-3, 260-pound Willis has already attended junior day events at Texas A&M and at LSU, and he'll be in Austin (along with teammate Speedy Noil) this weekend for a Texas Longhorn junior day.
"For the LSU one, I went to one for the top recruits in the state. I've been to LSU so many times, it's almost like it's the same thing they're telling me. I got to meet with the coaches some more," Willis said. "I've been there so much that there's not much new that they can tell me. I've known coach Frank (Wilson) for a long time.
"The Texas A&M one was a couple weeks ago. I got to see their facilities, talk to their coaches, meet coach (Kevin) Sumlin. I'm just trying to build a relationship with them. Everybody was really nice. They rolled the red carpet for me. It was really nice."
The trip to Austin will be Willis' first time on the Texas campus (Noil attended a UT camp last summer). Like his other junior day visits, Willis is excited to get a closer look at the Longhorn program and UT was a school that was put on his visit wish list a while ago.
"When my dad and I sat down, we wrote down a list of schools we were going to try to visit this summer. Texas was one of the first ones my dad put on the list," Willis said. "We're going to take that ride this weekend. We've talked to coach Mack Brown, Bo Davis and Larry Porter. My dad been talking to them a few times to set up everything, get all the information. He's going to bring me and Speedy up there this weekend."
Willis has talked to the Texas coaches directly and the UT staff, including Mack Brown, made a stop by Edna Karr late in the fall. Brown stressed to Willis that he'd like to get him on campus so he can show the standout DE first-hand what Texas has to offer. The Longhorns will get their chance to impress this weekend.
"When I talked to coach Brown, he just wanted me to come there and show me the tradition of Texas, the Longhorns, because I don't know much about them," Willis said. "He wants to educate me on the history of Texas, the players that have came through ... just give them a chance to show what they're working with.
"I want to get out of Louisiana, see what's going on in other states. I'm actually looking forward to going up there since I've heard Texas has one of the best campuses of any college."
Willis hasn't set up any more travel plans beyond this weekend, but he said he'll likely visit Florida State and USC at some point this spring or summer.
As it stands right now, Willis is planning to take his time with the recruiting process, but he hasn't completely ruled out the possibility of an early commitment if the right pieces fall into place.
"My plan, and that can change, but my plan right now is to take it slow, try to see all I can see. That way I know I'm making the right choice, make sure my family will be cool where I go," Willis said. "I want to be comfortable on the field and off the field. I'll probably take my time and commit at one of the all star games but if something pops up and I really like it, I might commit early."