Willis, a 6-3, 285-pound defensive tackle originally from Duncan (South Carolina) Byrnes High School, has had a back-and-forth college football career so far. He verbally committed to Tennessee out of high school, but when the Tennessee program appeared to be in line for NCAA sanctions, he then opted for North Carolina. He then decided he wanted to go to UCLA, and transferred from North Carolina in August 2010 heading into his freshman year. That dictated he must sit out a season and redshirt. In March of 2011 Willis decided to transfer back to North Carolina because of the poor health of his grandmother. He was hoping to gain a hardship eligibility waiver with the NCAA to play at North Carolina and not have to sit out another season. But then North Carolina was rocked with alleged charges and impending NCAA sanctions, and Willis now recently decided to transfer back to UCLA.
There is the issue of immediate elibility for this season. A source indicated that he may never have petitioned for the hardship waiver while at North Carolina. What this means is -- he has a better chance of getting his UCLA petition approved because he never promised to stay at North Carolina, so he will have never mislead or mischaracterized himself to the NCAA. It's still a longshot, but it could improve his chances.
If Willis did file a petition and promised to stay at North Carolina then the chance of immediate elibility at UCLA this season is remote.
Regardless of his eligibility this year, all indications are that Willis will transfer back to UCLA. On his Twitter page he wrote, "I"m going back to Cali." One source indicated he intended to be at practice today, Monday.
Last fall while redshirting, Willis was clearly a very talented prospect, showing great explosion and quickness in practice. There were indications that, if he had stayed at UCLA and been eligible this fall, he more than likely would have started at defensive tackle this season.
When Wilis was transferring from UCLA last spring, Coach Rick Neuheisel remained on good terms with Willis and his family, which we hear was critical in Willis' desire to return to UCLA.