The relationship University of Arkansas football Coach Sam Pittman and linebackers coach Michael Scherer have with ESPN 4-star linebacker Jaron Willis has him high on the Hogs and planning an official visit to Fayetteville.
Willis, 6-2, 220 pounds, of Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County, announced a top six of Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Kentucky and Ole Miss on Wednesday.
"Coach Pittman and myself always have great communication," Willis said. "We always talk. Coach Scherer, that's my guy. We talk every day. Always break down on what we can do with me up there. We set up an official visit on June 4."
Some of Willis' other scholarship offers include Auburn, LSU, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Southern Cal.
ESPN also rates Willis as the No. 16 outside linebacker and No. 136 overall prospect in the nation for the 2022 class. Getting to the next level and early playing time are topics Pittman and Scherer stress to Willis, he said.
"I can be a day one starter, if I come in and put the work in," he said.
Willis mentioned other schools he's looking to officially visit.
"I'm looking to line up Georgia Tech and Ole Miss at this point, and Kentucky," Willis said.
Pittman's sense of humor keeps Willis laughing, he said.
"Coach Pittman is a funny guy," Willis said, laughing. "Coach Pittman is always talking love all the time. It's always energetic and he always seems happy to talk to me. It's never a dull moment when we speak"
Willis said the Hogs are No. 1 on his list after being shown around campus and the facilities during a recent virtual tour with Scherer.
"I know I've never been to the facility or anything. I've never been to Arkansas period," said Willis, who's also being recruited by special teams coordinator Scott Fountain. "Just showing me around stood out to me and I know when I do go on my visit, I'll feel at home."
He helped lead Lee County to Class 6A state title game last season by recording 57 tackles, 2 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions and 6 pass breakups as a junior.
Willis wears No. 6 at Lee County. The number signifies excellence at Lee County and has recently been worn by Otis Reese, who played Ole Miss ,and Florida State defensive back Jammie Robinson.
With the help of his family and others, Willis said narrowing his list of schools to a more manageable number is a relief while describing the recruiting process as "stressful, happiness, exciting all in one."
"I'm just trying to take my time," Willis said.
His family is equally excited about Arkansas.
"They love it," Willis said. "When my mom heard we were making an official visit, she was hyped. She's ready to go down there. My family is behind me and they're excited."
Willis said his mother, Laconya, has also been talking to coaches at Arkansas.
"All of them," he said.
Email Richard Davenport at [email protected]