MIAMI (CBS Local)- The NFL Draft is just two weeks away, ending a long process for the many prospects hoping to hear their name called on one of the three days in Nashville. Former Miami Hurricanes defensive tackle Gerald Willis III is among those prospects that is just ready for the draft to be here so he can find out where he is heading next.
“It has been a great experience for me, but it has been a long journey as well,” said Willis in an interview at CBS Local’s studios. “Going through the combine and pro days and everything of that nature, it’s been long, but everything is going well. I’m just enjoying the process but excited for it to be over as well.”READ MORE: Attorney For Key Ally Of Venezuela Leader's Nicolas Maduro Called His Extradition To The US Illegal
For Willis, hearing his name called during the course of those three days in Nashville would be the culmination of a lifelong dream, one that he and his brother, Landon Collins shared growing up in New Orleans. It wasn’t always easy for Willis and his family growing up, but he says that is what made him into not only the man, but the football player that he is today.
“It was kind of tough for me because the area that I lived in there was a lot of poverty, and a lot of violence,” said Willis. “But, I think that made me the man that I am today and football-wise I think it made me a tougher guy. It made me want to get after it and get out of New Orleans. But, I’m always going to be thankful and grateful to New Orleans.”
Once he did leave New Orleans to attend the University of Florida in 2014, Willis like most college athletes, was still learning about himself and developing his game. After one season with the Gators, he transferred to Miami where he was forced to sit out for a year due to the NCAA’s transfer rules. In that time away from the game, Willis said the biggest lessons that he learned were not to give up and be patient, waiting for his chance.READ MORE: Haiti Gang With Past Abductions Blamed For Kidnapping Missionaries
Willis broke out in his senior season in 2018, recording 59 tackles (18 for loss) and four sacks en route to being honored with 2nd team All-ACC and 2nd team All American (Sports Illustrated) honors. Willis said that those honors were “a blessing” particularly for someone who, as he put it, isn’t even supposed to be here. He’s hoping that the awards continue to come once he gets to the NFL and, when he’s there, there is one quarterback in particular that he’s hoping to bring down.
“Tom Brady,” said Willis. “Tom Brady before he retires man. That would be a blessing if I was able to get the chance to hit him.”
For any team that takes him in the upcoming draft, Willis has a quick scouting report on himself for the fan base.
“I bring quickness. I bring ability to sack the quarterback. I am a get after the ball type of guy,” said Willis. “I am relentless. Just know that anybody who drafts me is getting a ball player and a winner.”MORE NEWS: Miami Police Investigate Bomb Threat
We’ll see when Willis’ name gets called beginning on Thursday, April 25th when the draft kicks off in Nashville, Tennessee.