The recruitment of JUCO CB Nate Willis will be prioritized by the Kentucky Football staff after having to dismiss two defensive backs on the current roster. If he selects Kentucky, Willis will be asked to come in and immediately compete for a starting cornerback position in Mark Stoops’ newly implemented 4-3 defense. Kentucky finished 54th in the nation in pass defense in 2012, which is pretty good with how bad the team looked at certain points. I think the 4-3 scheme is a lot simpler for defensive backs, meaning that, regardless, Kentucky’s secondary should put an overall better product on the field. If Willis commits to Kentucky, it’ll be hard not to pencil him in as one of the starting corners for next season from the beginning because he’s so talented. With so many young corners (JD Harmon, Fred Tiller, Cody Quinn) returning with a ton of game experience, it will be a tough battle for the second cornerback position but outstanding for depth purposes. I took a close look a Willis’ 2012 tape and here’s what stood out to me:
Nate Willis, CB/FS
Weight” 180 lbs.
40 time: 4.4
Junior College: Arizona Western C.C. (2013)
–An explosive kick returner. Willis is a combination of great vision and 4.4 speed that could be deemed as illegal. He is able to beat guys with his great lateral movement but also has blinding speed at his disposal that allows him to outrun entire special team units.
–Interchangeable positions. Willis’ ability to play both corner and free safety would have better serviced former defensive coordinator Rick Minter. Willis will play corner at UK but he doesn’t lose much ability when he switches positions. At safety, he’s able to play the deep-half of the field without much consequence, routinely baiting quarterbacks into bad decisions. At corner, he plays close to the line of scrimmage and uses his length and physicality to disrupt the timing of the opposing wide receivers’ routes. He is rarely outran because of his elite speed.
–A vicious hitter. Willis is one of the more physical defensive backs I’ve seen in a while. Whenever he has a chance to tackle an opposing player, it is a devastating hit almost every time. He plays the run game extremely well for a guy his size and isn’t afraid to slow down an oncoming running back. On tape, he looks ready for the physical nature of the SEC.