Five-star recruit Willis picks UCLA

Five-star recruit Willis picks UCLA

Published Jan. 22, 2013 9:12 p.m. ET

By Greg Biggins

Five-star defensive back Priest Willis has committed to UCLA.

Willis, who made the announcement at a press conference aired on, took official visits to Florida State, LSU, Nebraska, UCLA and Virginia and also strongly considered local favorite Arizona State. It came down to the ASU, LSU and UCLA in the end, but UCLA was able to seal the deal after his weekend official visit.

“I’ve really been feeling UCLA for a long time,” Willis said. “Going back to last year around this time, before I had any offers, if someone asked me who my favorite school was, I always said UCLA. I’ve just always liked them, I love the area and the tradition for football and academically.

“I got real close with (head coach Jim) Mora and also the DB coach, (defensive backs coach Demetrice) Martin. My whole family felt a connection there and that just grew all season. I took several unofficial visits and every time I visited, it felt like home to me. The guys on the team treated me like family and I’m just really excited to have this decision out of the way.”

Willis nearly committed to UCLA at the Under Armour All-American Game a few weeks ago but decided he just wasn’t ready.

“Honestly, I didn’t want to deal with all the coaches at the hotel after the game,” Willis joked. “I never had any doubt UCLA was the place for me and being there again this past weekend with my family, that really sealed it. I called up Coach Martin earlier in the week and told him I was ready to do this and make it public.”

Willis is the latest big name in a growing UCLA class. Four-star defensive back Tahaan Goodman committed earlier Wednesday. Two other four-star defensive backs -- Johnny Johnson and Tyler Foreman -- committed over the weekend. Willis says he'll now turn his attention to adding even more big names to that list.

“I want to go out and recruit guys like (five-star defensive lineman) Eddie Vanderdoes and (four-star defensive lineman) Kylie Fitts and a few others and make this a huge class. I know Tahaan committed earlier today and that’s my boy right there. I can’t wait to play with him in college because we really clicked well when we played together all summer.”

Willis says he has big plans for himself at UCLA. “My goal is simple, I want to come in and make an immediate impact. I know UCLA needs some help in the secondary and (they) graduate both starting corners so the opportunity to play is there. This was more than just a football decision though. UCLA had everything I was looking for, socially, academically, and I really clicked well with the coaches. I didn’t see any negatives there, all pluses, and that’s what put them over the top in the end.”

The commitment from Willis is big for UCLA as he’s the top-rated corner in the West, No. 4 in the nation, and the No. 41 overall recruit in the 2013 class. He has safety size but corner speed and athleticism and has tremendous upside at the next level.

The Bruins have  two other commitments from Arizona: Kenny Lacy of Mountain Pointe, a four-star offensive tackle, and Jalen Ortiz of Centennial, a three-star running back.

To watch Willis' announcement, click on the video player below.