Priest Willis is a 5-star cornerback from Tempe, Arizona that would be a perfect fit with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but if there's one program that may ruin their plans to recruit the talented defensive back, it would be Florida State.
The Seminoles will be Notre Dame's biggest competition for Willis.
Willis recently took an official visit to FSU, and according to Chris Nee of 247Sports.com, who quotes Willis' stepfather, Mike Walker, the Seminoles have put themselves in good standing with the 5-star defensive back:
With the visit now concluded, Walker says that Florida State has positioned themselves to make a strong bid for Willis’ services over the final month of the recruiting process for the 6-foot-2, 200-pound defensive back.
“They will be in it until the time he gets ready to make his decision,” Walker said. “The visit was very good. It gave us an opportunity to see how the program operates and what it would be like for Priest to be a part of it.”
This is a pretty negative statement for Notre Dame, especially considering they haven't notched an official visit with Willis yet. Willis has taken officials to Nebraska and now Florida State, and Nee is reporting that he's planning on officially visiting Virginia and LSU coming up. That makes four out of five officials, and the fifth hasn't been planned (at least publicly), so that leaves the Fighting Irish on the outside looking in.
For the record, Willis' recruitment is down to a top seven, according to 247Sports, which has Arizona State, Florida State, LSU, Nebraska, Notre Dame, UCLA and Virginia all listed as "warm interests."
On paper, Notre Dame still seems like the best fit for Willis. They play an aggressive defense on the front seven, which opens up playmaking opportunities for a corner of Willis' size (6'2'', 200 pounds, according to 247Sports), and that squad will only continue to get better, as Brian Kelly has recruited some very good linebacker prospects in 5-star Jaylon Smith and 4-star Alex Anzalone.
The Fighting Irish's great 2012 season is obviously a big reason to take interest in them as well. They ran the table in the regular season, going 12-0, and now they find themselves awaiting an opponent to play in the national championship game. As good as they've been, though, this is a program that can get even better because of recruiting, and Willis could be a huge part of that in the defensive secondary.
The fit is there for Notre Dame, but it appears as if this Florida State visit may really change the complexion of Willis' recruitment.
The Seminoles and their staff obviously made a huge impression with Willis and his stepfather, and they can provide the 5-star defensive back with a lot of the same opportunists that Notre Dame can. Florida State is the powerhouse of the ACC, and with the way Jimbo Fisher recruits, it's not unrealistic to say that they can be in the national picture for years to come.
At this point, Notre Dame has to hope they can secure that final official visit, but even if they do, their toughest competition in this recruiting battle will be FSU. I wouldn't count the Fighting Irish out just yet, but at this point, Florida State is starting to look like a frontrunner for Willis' commitment.