Airyn Willis said his plan for Tuesday was to leave his cell phone off the entire day and not turn it on until he made his signing day announcement on Wednesday. But it didn’t work out that way.
Instead he found himself on the phone all evening trying to explain why he was not going to sign with Georgia Tech, to which he has been committed since last April, and sign instead with Wake Forest, a school at which he never took an official visit.
“It’s been very stressful,” said Willis, reached at his High Point, N.C., home late Tuesday evening. “It’s not a rumor. I’m going to sign with Wake Forest tomorrow.”
Asked to explain his decision, Willis said it basically business.
“First of all, people need to understand I have no problem with anybody at Georgia Tech,” he said. “I have a great relationship with all their coaches and they’re all great people. What it came down to is what benefited me was to go to Wake Forest to be a slot receiver.
“Me and my parents, we discussed it at length. And sometimes you just have to give it up to God. That’s what we ended up doing. I prayed about it a lot and this was the best decision for me.”
News of Willis’ flip first leaked out in a recruiting blog on the website of the Greensboro News & Record, which quoted Southwest Guilford High coach Scott Schwarzer saying Willis had changed his mind to Wake Forest. Reached by the AJC, Schwarzer denied making those comments
Willis, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound quarterback at Southwest Guilford, has been committed to the Yellow Jackets since last April. He said he had originally been told he would have the opportunity to play quarterback at Tech but might also would get a look at receiver and some other positions.
Later, the Jackets landed quarterback Vad Lee of Durham, N.C. Lee, North Carolina’s Class 4A player of the year. That seemed to assure Willis’ fate as a receiver.
Willis said he didn’t mind playing receiver at Tech but felt he could be more productive at the position in a more balanced offense such as the one at Wake Forest.
“We a really close relationship with Coach [Andy] McCollum and we hated to disappoint him,” Willis said. “But like my Dad told him, people have to understand we have to do what’s in my best interest. Somebody has to be disappointed and unfortunately it’s Georgia Tech.”
With his decision, Willis becomes the fifth Georgia Tech commitment in the last three weeks to change his mind. DE Darrius Caldwell (Illinois), DE Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame), DE Trey Flowers (Arkansas) and DT Tre Jackson (undetermined) will all sign elsewhere when the national signing period for college football opens Wednesday morning.
Willis rushed for 1,004 yards and 10 touchdowns on 140 carries for the Cowboys (6-6) this season. He completed 19 of 60 passes for 339 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions, and also caught a 29-yard touchdown pass.
In related news, Jackson was offered a scholarship by Georgia on Tuesday, according to UGASports.com. Jackson, a Tech commitment since October, had his scholarship offer from rescinded by coach Paul Johnson because he visited Florida State last weekend. Ironically, it appears that the Seminoles won’t be signing him.
By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog