Nate Willis holds 17 scholarship offers. The Arizona Western Community College cornerback is used to the process. Schools scout him, show up at his games, talk about how he fits with the program and an assistant coach finally offers him a scholarship. It's formulaic. It's mundane. It's, to be blunt, stale.
There are minor tweaks to the blueprint, but all 17 offers have, more or less, come in that fashion. So you can imagine Willis' excitement when West Virginia flipped the script on Monday afternoon. This offer was different from the rest. This offer made an impact.
"I liked that the head coach was the one offering me," Willis said. "No other schools have really done that. I was surprised. They hit me up on Facebook and I called. When I called, Coach (Dana Holgorsen) was the one that made the offer.
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"It looks like they need a little help in the secondary. Coach told me they want me to come in and start. They came to my game on Saturday and liked what they saw. They like how aggressive I am and that I can play corner and free safety. They actually saw me playing safety."
Willis was high on the Mountaineers even before the offer came along. The events of Monday only strengthened an existing opinion. Willis plans to name an official top 5 in the near future and says West Virginia will certainly appear on that list. Kansas State, Arizona State, Mississippi State and South Florida, to which he originally committed, figure to round out the group.
From here, things will move somewhat quickly. Visits are being set and schools are being eliminated. Willis will hit the road for Morgantown on Dec. 7 and will be accompanied by Arizona Western teammates D'Vante Henry (LB) and Purdue commit Randy Gregory (DE).
"The three of us talk about playing together all the time," Willis said. "It may happen, it may not."
Willis also intends to tour the campus of Mississippi State and is working to confirm a Nov. 17 date for such a trip. A visit to Kansas State was originally scheduled for early December, but is being rescheduled for "sometime in January."
"I'll wait to decide if I take the other two visits. I'll probably visit South Florida, but I'm just waiting on additional offers. I'll probably get an offer from Boise State or something next week, so we'll see."
Visits will be knocked out somewhat quickly, but don't expect a hasty commitment to follow. Willis is flagrant about his intentions on that front. He plans to have a decision made by early January, but don't expect him to share that information until his birthday on Feb. 1.
"I'll know where I'm going before that," he said. "I'm just not going to make it public."