Miami Hurricanes DT Gerald Willis Out for 2017 Season


On the eve of the Coastal Division’s turn at ACC Kickoff Days, the Miami Hurricanes announced that defensive tackle Gerald Willis is taking a leave of absence that will cause him to miss the 2017 football season.

Willis was a key backup for the Miami Hurricanes last season. Willis had 19 tackles, five and have tackles for loss and one and a half sacks backing up Kendrick Norton and R.J. McIntosh with Andrew Moten last season.

Willis is the second defensive tackle Miami has lost this offseason. Former backup Courtel Jenkins was dismissed from the team for a violation of teams rules. Jenkins landed at Houston where former Miami Defensive Mark D’Onofrio holds the same position.

The loss is a hit to the Miami front seven which is being touted as one of the best in the country for the 2017 season. They should still have enough depth to withstand Willis’ departure.

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  • The Hurricanes return Demetrius Jackson from injury on the outside up front. Miami has a few candidates to compete for Willis’ playing time.

    Pat Bethel was switched inside from defensive end in the spring. Sophomore Tyriec Martin and Freshmen Jon Ford will also get a chance in camp to earn playing time early in the season.

    "No reason has been given for Willis’ absence. Head Coach Mark Richt released a statement saying that Willis “remains part of the Miami family and may take part in designated team activities.”"

    Willis has had a rocky college career. He spent one season at Florida before transferring to Miami. Willis was an Under Armour All-American coming out of high school. Part of the reason for the transfer was two alleged altercations according to the Palm Beach Post.

    Willis was also suspended twice last season after sitting out 2015 at Miami as a transfer. He sat out the first and last games of last season. Willis was suspended for the opener against Florida A&M and again for the Hurricanes Russell Athletic Bowl win against West Virginia.

    He likely would have sat the bowl game out with the knee injury after having surgery late in the season. Willis was still dealing with the injury during spring workouts. He was expected to be ready for the beginning of camp on August 1.

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    Willis played in eight games as a freshman at Florida before transferring to Miami. He recorded 14 tackles and a half tackle for loss.

    He was dismissed from Florida in January 2015 after several incidents in Gainesville, including two suspensions and an altercation with former Gators quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg who is now at FCS Columbia. Mornhinweg is the son of former NFL head coach and quarterback Marty Mornhinweg. 

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    Richt will speak on Friday at the ACC Kickoff in Charlotte. The Coastal Division teams are up after the Atlantic Division teams went on Thursday.