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SOTU Awards: Most Valuable Player — DT Gerald Willis III

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Willis was easily the Hurricanes best player in 2018

State of the U Illustration by Mike Meredith

Gerald Willis III easily had the best individual season for the Hurricanes in 2018. Willis has had one hell of a rollercoaster college football career that spanned Gainesville, FL and the Florida Gators before landing in Coral Gables with the Hurricanes. Willis redshirted off of his transfer, and then also sat out another season in 2017 before finishing his career as the MVP of the 2018 season.

Willis, a six-foot-four, 285 pound defensive tackle, was the anchor of the Hurricane defensive line that also included future NFL Draft pick Joe Jackson and stud defensive end Jonathan Garvin. This season Willis logged 59 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and four sacks in 12 games. Over his prolific college career, Willis totaled 92 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks.

It’s plays like the ones above that show Willis’ elite athleticism. His quick first step, and ability to decelerate, change direction, and accelerate to make a havoc play are going to be highly desired by NFL scouts. Willis is going to be a hard man to replace, and that was evident against the Wisconsin Badgers in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, with Willis out Miami was gashed by Jonathan Taylor for 205 yards (7.6 yards per carry) and a touchdown back in December.

Willis was a major player on the defense and a huge part of why the Hurricanes led the nation in tackles for loss with a school-record 136 on the season. Willis was named a 2nd team All-American and our Matt Washington covered Mr. Willis III in his senior profile. Draft Tek has Willis III going 63rd overall to the Kansas City Chiefs in their 2019 mock NFL Draft. He was by far the best player on the field for Miami throughout the 2018 season.