GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Defensive end prospect Gerald Willis III (New Orleans, La./Edna Karr) will only be a junior this coming year, but he is already familiar with what college football recruiting is all about. Willis is the half-brother of Alabama safety signee Landon Collins, the No. 1 safety in the country last year.
Collins spurned the home-state LSU Tigers and instead signed with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Willis said he wants to follow his brother's lead by not being afraid to get out of Louisiana -- but only if it's the best decision for him when it's time to make his college decision.
"It really don't matter if I go far from home," Willis said. "I just know that I have a home to come home to. My brother proved that he wasn't just going to stay at home. He could have stayed at home, but he thought he could go further if he went to Alabama. So I'm going to follow in my brother's footsteps. I might stay at home or I might go somewhere. I just don't know."
The 6-foot-3, 246-pound defensive end prospect already has offers from Florida, LSU, Alabama, Miami and Arkansas. With trips to LSU and Alabama under his belt, Willis camped at Florida on Thursday and said he was blown away by what Florida had to offer.
"My trip to Gainesville that was like the best college trip I have taken so far," Willis said. "Coach Derek Lewis, the tight ends coach, he's from New Orleans. I relate to him. Their D-line coach is way different than the Alabama and LSU D-line coaches. I just relate real good with him. Coach [Will] Muschamp he is a real honest and telling me that they will recruit me as an end.
"I just feel comfortable with the staff and they will teach me a lot of things. Coach [Bryant] Young isn't the type of coach that will yell and scream at me, he will come to me and talk to me and tell me what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong. That's the reason it was my best college visit so far."
Some schools are recruiting Willis as a defensive tackle and others as a defensive end. Willis says the Gators want him as a speed rusher coming off the edge.
"They are recruiting me as a defensive end," Willis said. "They told me that the reason they are recruiting me so hard and they want me to be a Gator is because the two guys they have at end are more inside guys. They really don't have a speed rusher. He [Muschamp] was like, 'You already have D-end size, you have the frame to be a D-end. You have the speed and the agility to play early.' They say I have the ability to be a true freshman and come off the bench. They said, 'I will not have you sit on the bench if you come here as a D-end.' "
With his Florida trip now completed, Willis says he will likely take some other visits before the start of his junior season.
"I'll probably go visit Alabama and see my brother," Willis said. "I'll probably go to LSU and maybe Miami by the end of the summer."