Georgia Tech linebacker commitment Jaron Willis enjoyed a busy opening week to the college football season as he saw three different games in three days. It all started on Saturday in Atlanta, as Willis was in attendance for the Yellow Jackets' opener against Northern Illinois.
Following that, he made the trek down to Tallahassee to watch the Seminoles and Fighting Irish clash. On Labor Day, Willis went back to Atlanta to wrap things up with a trip to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to get his eyes on Ole Miss and Louisville.
“Me and my grandad went up to Georgia Tech on Saturday to watch the game against NIU," Willis said to NoleGameday's Dustin Lewis. "It was a great atmosphere, we were with a couple of commits and we had a great time there. Unfortunately, Georgia Tech didn’t come out with the victory. As recruits, we had a great time and we’re ready to come back. We’re planning to go to the Kennesaw State game on Saturday [tomorrow]. On Sunday, Florida State vs Notre Dame. I went up there with some Florida State commits, Travis Hunter and my teammate Qae’Shon Sapp. We were all up there having a good time, being kids, and enjoying being in the stadium. With the great atmosphere and having the opportunity to see both defenses and where I can really play at.”
Sunday night marked the first time that Willis had attended a Florida State game inside of Doak Campbell Stadium after growing up a fan of the Seminoles. He called it a "crazy" experience.
“Let me tell you, first off, it was loud," Willis said. "The game was like 50 minutes away and it was still loud. I couldn’t believe it. Walking in, I actually got on the field for a minute, the vibes were there. When kickoff came, it got even louder. When everyone settled in, got into the game, and tried to be supportive, it just was crazy. For my first experience there, it was good. I’d love to come back to another game.”
The Georgia native is committed to the Yellow Jackets as a safety but FSU likes him at linebacker. Willis paid close attention to linebackers coach Chris Marve and his unit throughout the course of the game. Following the loss, Marve had a conversation with Willis and his mother.
“As everyone knows, I’m getting recruited as a linebacker [by FSU] so that was one of my main focuses for them," Willis said. "That linebacker group looked fast and furious. Someone that stood out to me was Amari Gainer. He was flying around at Stud and making plays. I can see myself really fitting into that defense.”
“I got a chance to speak with coach Marve," Willis continued. "Seeing how he coached on the field, the energy was there, and all the time he was bringing that juice to the linebacker group. I saw him try to find ways to give an edge on Notre Dame’s offense and talk to the linebackers a lot during the course of the game. After the game, I did talk to him. We were just talking about how I felt about the game, what I saw from the linebackers, how I felt about the atmosphere, and where I stand with Florida State right now. We had a great talk, him and my mom had a great talk, and we still love coach Marve.”
Willis received plenty of love from Florida State fans during his unofficial visit. He took a ton of pictures with fans and appreciated the warm reception to Tallahassee.
“It’s a huge accomplishment," Willis said. "Coming from a small county and a small city, everybody knows everybody, but when you get recognized in a big environment it feels good. I took a lot of pictures [with FSU fans]. The Florida State fanbase showed a lot of love. I’ve still got a lot of love for Florida State but I feel comfortable with my decision as of now.”
The Lee County High School product has seen his team get off to an undefeated start early in his senior season. The Trojans will look to carry that momentum into Friday night against Miami quarterback commit Jaccurri Brown and Lowndes High school.
“So far, I just feel like our team is playing good football," Willis said. "We’ll get there, we’re playing a tough team this weekend in Lowndes. It’s put up or shut up right now, all of the hype is over and we’re getting prepared for them to see where our team stands. As our coach says, it’s really not about Lowndes at this point, it’s about us, seeing if we can get better and if we can get to where we need to be. This is a revenge game, they beat us up last year but we’re trying to get back on them. Personally, I think I’ve been playing well. I moved down to linebacker right now, trying to get back a feel for that. I’m just trying to do whatever my team needs me to do.”
As for his pledge to Georgia Tech, Willis is still firmly committed to the Yellow Jackets at this point. That said, the Seminoles definitely have his attention.
“I can say right now, I think Georgia Tech is in my best interests right now," Willis said. "I just really think that I’ll be a better fit with them than Florida State. It’s just something that God led me to personally and I just think right now Georgia Tech is the place to be at. Florida State really doesn’t have to do anything, they impress me every day, especially Sunday’s game. I know they’re out for blood to try and get a win in the column. I know that they’ll come on top, same as Georgia Tech, this weekend.”
Willis claims that he is planning to return to Florida State at some point this season to attend another home game. He's also got a few trips set up to GT.
Returning to Tally: “Yeah, I’m planning on taking in another game. I don’t know what game yet. As for Georgia Tech, me and a recruit just thought about going to the Kennesaw State game to see how they bounce back from a heartbreaking loss. I plan on going to the North Carolina game when Georgia Tech plays in Mercedes Bienz. Florida State, I don’t know right now, just know that I’ll be back in Doak Campbell pretty soon. I know it’s going to be the same vibes and same excitement as when I first got there.”
The 6-foot-2, 228-pound athlete is ranked as the No. 158 overall prospect, the No. 19 LB, and the No. 16 prospect in the state of Georgia in the 2022 class according to 247Sports.
Keep up with NoleGameday for the latest on Willis throughout his senior season.