Brandon Willis’s Road Back to UCLA: A Complicated One

UCLA boards have been buzzing last few days about former blue chip DT Brandon Willis possibly heading back to UCLA ... again. If your head is spinning a bit at this news, here is a reset (not adding all previous links as you can search "Brandon Willis" on BN):

  • Brandon Willis was a highly regarded DT recruit for Lane Kiffin (Kiffin reportedly ran afoul of NCAA regulations to go after him) and committed to Tennessee;
  • Willis then asked out of his Tennessee commitment and signed with UNC;
  • Then the Butch Davis' scandal broke out at UNC and he transferred to UCLA last September and sat out as a redshirt
  • Then Davis' transferred to UNC earlier this year so that he could reportedly help take care of an ailing family member back home
  • Then UNC's football program completely imploded as the Tar Heel administration fired Butch Davis earlier this summer and Willis decided to leave UNC.

Now rumors are surfacing that Willis wants to come back to UCLA. From Jon Gold:

Willis might be headed back to UCLA. He just confirmed the news, as did a source inside the program, but I'm obviously a bit skeptical of the whole situation. There is nothing official yet out of UCLA.

Willis added that he's not sure if he'd be eligible this season, but either way, it would obviously be a boon to the Bruins. Lost in the ongoing ordeal over the last few years - verbally commits to Tennessee, decommits and commits to North Carolina, transfers from North Carolina to UCLA, decides to transfer from North Carolina, now back to UCLA - is Willis' real talent.

Foster added this in the LA Times:

UCLA will attempt to get Willis a waiver from the NCAA so he can play this season. If Willis is not granted a waiver, he would have to sit out for a second consecutive season and would have three seasons of eligibility remaining, according to the person in the program.

I'd suggest everyone to hold their excitement level here because the situation is a bit complicated. I am not holding my breath and I will explain a little more after the jump.

From what I have heard when Willis was released from UCLA allowing him to transfer back to Chapel Hill, he enrolled in UNC's summer school. So he became a UNC student. It is also not clear whether NCAA granted his petition to become immediately eligible to play for UNC. I have not seen or read any report confirming that. So with that situation in limbo, it seems like it may unrealistic to expect that Willis can just waltz right back to UCLA and become eligible to play this season immediately.

I think if Willis is really interested in coming back to UCLA, we will welcome him with open arms. But at the same time all parties involved need to be realistic about the situation and understand that chances he will most likely have to sit out yet another season (given he started attending UNC as a student). Of course, it helps that UCLA has a pretty nice depth at the defensive frontline. So having him on the team will give us nice boost going into next season.

Either way, wherever Willis ends up, we wish him luck. He has been through a lot as a young man. From our understanding Willis left UCLA on really good terms and the coaches and our guys will be happy to welcome him back. Yet before there is a final decision on the part of Willis, we hope he takes his time, considers all options and make a decision that is best for him in the long term. As always, he should remember this is not just about football, but also getting an education that could set him up for long term success in life. Good luck to him.

GO BRUINS.

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