Returning to the field after a leave of absence last season, redshirt senior DT Gerald Willis III showed elite talent in Miami’s season opener vs LSU. For his efforts on the night, which included 8 tackles, 4 TFLs, a sack, and a PBU/batted ball, Willis III was named the ACC’s Defensive Lineman of the Week.
Here’s more narrative on this award from Miami Athletics:
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Redshirt senior defensive lineman Gerald Willis III was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week, the conference office announced Tuesday.
Willis III, playing in his first game since Nov. 2016, started and delivered a dominant outing against the LSU Tigers in the AdvoCare Classic at AT&T Stadium.
Willis III posted a career-high eight tackles in his first start (four solo). He recorded an eye-popping 4.0 tackles for loss, marking the first such performance by a Hurricane since 2008.
Playing against his hometown team, Willis III, a New Orleans native, had one sack, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry in a masterful effort.
Willis III and sophomore defensive lineman Jonathan Garvin (3.0 tackles for loss) became the first Miami duo to each record 3.0 tackles for loss in one game since the 2016 season opener against Florida A&M – Mark Richt’s first game as head coach at Miami.
Willis’ eight tackles were tied for second-most among all Hurricanes in Sunday’s 33-17 setback to LSU.
This is the kind of performance Willis III was projected to have in college when he was a 5-star recruit in the class of 2014. After initially signing with Florida, Willis III transferred to Miami in 2015. He sat out that season per NCAA transfer rules, played some but missed games due to suspensions in 2016, and took a leave of absence from the program in 2017, but later returned as a member of the practice squad.
The bright side of Willis III’s performance is that we now know that the question of talent lacking at DT has been answered. Sure, there need to be more depth, but with a top-end talent like Willis III — who was completely unblockable for the majority of Sunday’s game — Miami should be in a good spot along the DL moving forward.
Congratulations to the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week: Mr. Gerald Willis III