Not only is Brandon Willis one of the top prospects in the 2010 class but he's also serious about hitting the books so finding the right fit both athletically and academically could be difficult. Lucky for him, top programs from across the country are involved so he will have a wide range of colleges to choose from.
"It's always a difficult decision because you like little things about each school but when it comes down to it, I'm looking at education first because you have to have something to fall back on if football doesn't work out," Willis said. "That will kind of narrow some things down easier because everyone doesn't have the major I want. I'm just going to really look at it, me and my dad, to see where I want to be and where I don't want to be.
"That is tough but most schools have at least something in engineering. I would like to do architecture too but most schools probably have that career interest in their school, most of the schools I've visited already, so that would be no problem."
Willis is a 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end from Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes who has Florida State, North Carolina and Georgia as his top three schools but said he is still open to all options.
Since he plans to graduate early, Willis wants to narrow down his choices soon but first he will visit Southern Cal, UCLA and California on a West Coast swing. Following those trips, Willis will sit down and figure out which schools could be the best fit.
Rivals.com rates Willis as the No. 21 prospect in the 2010 class. Only three defensive ends are rated higher. The Seminoles, Tar Heels and Bulldogs have the best chance at landing Willis but Notre Dame, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Michigan, Alabama and a host of others have offered and are still considered contenders.
"Right now, I'm open with everybody," said Willis, who finished with 144 tackles and 13 sacks last season. He had four sacks in his sophomore year.
"I like Georgia and Florida State but in about a month, I'm going to go out to California and take a few visits and when I get back I'm going to narrow it down to five. That's what I'm in the process of doing right now. I'm not singling anybody out. I like Florida State and Georgia but then in a couple months I'm going to narrow it down to a top five."
Willis recently stopped by North Carolina for its spring game and that worked out well. He met with coach Butch Davis and defensive line coach John Blake and it was a visit that helped North Carolina's chances.
One aspect of recruiting that is crucial to Willis is building relationships and getting to know the coaches on a personal level at all the schools he is seriously considering.
"You have to do that because you don't want to have a conflict with the coach, you want to know about him, just talk to him more," Willis said. "You just want to feel out their personality, see if you can play for them because people are different, they have different styles of coaching, different ways of talking to people, different attitudes, but you want to play for the best.
"You want to make sure the coach is a good guy not just because he's a good coach and he really wants you to play for him. You want to make sure he's not just interested in you because you're a top guy."