The Texas Longhorns have a chance to make a big impact with one of the more talented defensive end recruits in the country during their upcoming junior day.
Gerald Willis III is a 4-star defensive end and he's ranked as the No. 5 strong-side defensive end in the 2014 class according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings. He's also a big-time recruit from the state of Louisiana.
Willis checks in at 6'2.25'', 246 pounds and runs a 5.16 40-yard-dash according to 247Sports. He doesn't have excellent speed, but his size more than makes up for it, as does his potential.
He's one of the more sought after defensive ends in the country right now, with offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida, LSU, Miami and Nebraska amongst others. Florida, LSU and Texas A&M are listed as the top teams on his 247Sports interest list, followed by Alabama and USC with "warm interests".
Texas is amongst the teams that have offered the talented defensive end, and the good news for the Longhorns is that he will be attending the next junior day coming up this weekend, per Jason Suchomel of Orangebloods.com:
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 teammateSpeedy Noil) this weekend for a Texas Longhorn junior day.
Willis goes on to talk a bit more about Texas, per Suchomel's report:
"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."
Needless to say, he's going to be one of the bigger visitors in attendance for Texas' junior day, and the Longhorns will have a great chance to move up his interest list if they make the right pitch.
Just what is the right pitch for Texas though?
The big thing to mention would be the fact that the Longhorns didn't recruit a defensive end through the 2013 class. The need wasn't necessarily there with Jackson Jeffcoat coming back for his senior season and back from injury and Cedric Reed holding down the strong-side.
Once 2014 rolls around the need for big-time depth at the defensive end position will be there, and Willis would be more than capable enough to come in right away and compete for playing time as a rotational player at defensive end.
Eventually, he could work his way into a starters role and be very productive for the Longhorns.
There's also the rich tradition of football excellence that Texas has to offer, plus a great campus and football environment. According to Suchomel's report, head coach Mack Brown wants to stress that with the elite defensive end recruit:
"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."
Texas may be in somewhat of a down period, but it is still one of the most prominent football schools in the country. The Longhorns didn't recruit up to their lofty standards in 2013, but Texas still brought in a talented class.
If the Longhorns can couple a good 2013 class with a great 2014 class, highlighted by Jeffcoat and a few other elite recruits, Texas could be back on top of the college football world in no time.
The program in general has elite potential, and that's something that wont change. When you think about the best college football schools in the country, Texas is on that short list. That alone should be a draw for Willis.
If Texas can pitch the program, the history, playing time and the potential for a very bright future—the Longhorns could make a big-time push for Willis during this upcoming junior day.