Indulge us here as we channel one of the most enjoyable scenes in Simpsons history — Homer and the free frogurt – to illustrate a particular situation with Miami’s interior defensive line.
The Hurricanes lost a pair of NFL-bound defensive tackles.
They replaced them with a former five-star recruit.
The former five-star has had a troubled career.
He spent last year terrorizing scout-team offensive linemen.
He was a scout-team terror because he wasn’t playing in games.
He is preparing for spring practice by going to sleep at 8 p.m. every night.
And … scene.
Thanks for allowing that particular bit of madness. If you aren’t a Simpsons fan and you’re wholly confused, let’s unpack it:
Miami is in a bit of a bind after losing Kendrick Norton and RJ McIntosh a year early to the pros, but Gerald Willis, the aforementioned blue-chipper, is back. Willis, 247Sports’ No. 2 defensive tackle in the 2014 recruiting class, is 6-foot-2, 280 pounds and plays angry. He can be an impact player – if he stays on a straight path. Willis left Florida in 2015 amid off-the-field issues, has been suspended multiple times in his career and sat out last season for what UM called personal reasons.
In nine games as a backup, he has 19 tackles (5.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks. As a redshirt senior this fall, he’ll have a chance to start and succeed. Teammates are betting he will do both.
“He’s hungry, man,” junior defensive end Joe Jackson said in a phone interview last Thursday. “He’s anxious. We’re not worried about Gerald at all. He’s one of, if not the best players on the D-line. You can see it on his film or whenever he gets in the game. I think he’s going to have a good season.”
Senior safety Jaquan Johnson, one of the Hurricanes’ vocal leaders, said senior end Demetrius Jackson is the most booming voice on the D-line, but Willis is making his presence felt.
“A guy who’s playing a big role now that I didn’t even expect is Gerald Willis,” Johnson said. “He’s healthy. He’s going to sleep at 8. He’s getting all his hours. He’s focused. He’s letting the team know he’s focused. He’s actually speaking up when we’re doing team runs, when we’re in the weight room. Guys are starting to follow his lead.”
Wait, going to sleep at 8?
“Yeah, he’s going to sleep at 8, 8:30 at night,” Johnson said. “He’s so focused about how productive he can be for the team. He was scout team player of the year for us. He’s looking forward to the challenge of going out and helping us win a lot of games.”
During Miami’s offseason training, Johnson said, he likes push his teammates by getting in their faces. Willis, who has a history of pushing back in ways that get him in trouble, is pushing forward.
“I just ask him, ‘You going to be able to go hard every snap?’” Johnson said. “’You tired?’ It’s like, yeah. That’s what he does. He’s been waiting for his opportunity. He’s made a few mistakes, but he got another chance and he’s going to make the most of it.”
Scouting Miami’s incoming freshmen
Early enrollees: QB Williams | RB Lingard | WR Hightower | WR Wiggins | OL Scaife | OL Campbell | DE Rousseau | CB Frierson | CB Ivey | S Hall | Summer arrivals: RB Davis | FB George | WR Pope | WR Ezzard | TE Jordan | TE Mallory | OL Reed | DT Silvera | DT Miller | LB Joyner | CB Blades | CB Bethel