Gerald Willis continues to terrorize UM’s scout-team offensive line, to the point coaches have asked him to slow down, according to defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.
Willis, who left the team for personal reasons last summer before returning for August camp, is still on track to play in 2018.
“Oh yeah, absolutely,” coach Mark Richt said. “He’ll play a bunch, too.”
Asked to clarify the reasons behind Willis’ absence — UM has deemed them “personal” and said nothing more — Richt said this:
“What I want to clarify what we know. We know he’s not playing this year, he’s working with the team, he’s healthy, and he’s going to have a great senior year.”
UM opens 2018 in Arlington, Texas against LSU — a team that lost Willis, a New Orleans native, to Florida in the 2014 recruiting cycle. Wills transferred to Miami the following year.
Willis, a redshirt junior listed at 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds, will be needed in 2018 considering UM could lose standout starters R.J. McIntosh and Kendrick Norton to the NFL draft. They have been two of UM’s best players.
They have combined for 3.0 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss, but their inside pressure has let UM’s ends and linebackers make plays. Miami ranks third in the ACC in sacks and fifth in tackles for loss.
McIntosh broke up five passes last week — catapulting him into a tie for 10th place in the ACC in that category. For perspective, McIntosh has as many PBUs as Florida State’s top cornerback, Tarvarus McFadden.
Sophomore Pat Bethel and freshman Jon Ford are expected to be a larger part of UM’s defensive tackle rotation, and four-star recruit Nesta Silvera is likely to see time. UM will be loaded at end; even though Chad Thomas and Trent Harris will graduate, Joe Jackson, Demetrius Jackson, D.J. Johnson and Jonathan Garvin return.