Another former Tennessee football player who entered the NCAA transfer portal after the Vols concluded spring practice appears to have found his new program. Linebacker Aaron Williswho formally entered the transfer database on May 2 after announcing his plans to do so a couple days earlier, announced via social media on Wednesday that he has committed to transfer to Houston. The former Top247 prospect was the highest-ranked player in Tennessee’s 2021 recruiting class, but lasted just one season with the Vols.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Willis was rated a four-star prospect and ranked the No. 195 overall player, No. 23 linebacker and No. 7 prospect in Virginia in the 2021 class by 247Sports coming out of Life Christian Academy, though he played at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore when he committed to Tennessee in May 2020.
Houston went 12-2 in 2021, its third season under head coach Dana Holgorsen. The Cougars opened the year with a loss to Texas Tech before running off 11 wins in a row, winning all eight American Athletic Conference games to climb into the top 25. Houston lost the AAC Championship Game to Cincinnati, but rebounded to edge Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl and finish No. 17 in the final AP poll.
Willis, who has three years of remaining eligibility, played eight games primarily on special teams as a freshman in 2021, recording one tackle and a half-tackle for loss in the second half of the blowout win against South Alabama in November.
After he was suspended for spring practice following an off-field incident having enrolled early a year ago, Willis was competing for rotational snaps at linebacker during spring practice, but likely was headed toward a similar role this season.
“He’s another kid that didn’t get a chance to go through spring (last year),” linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary said earlier this month. “He’s been a pleasant surprise. He’s starting to look like he’s more comfortable in the system that we have and has been making plays every day.”
Here was the scouting report on Willis coming out of high school from 247Sports national recruiting analyst Brian Don:
Frame concerns at linebacker, but not a deal-breaker. Plays physical, violent and fast. Sound with responsibilities. Moves well laterally. Good tackler with body control. Delivers big hit with low pad level moving downhill. Quick feet and ability to change direction in coverage. Excellent instincts. Can disengage and fill run gaps. Solid blitzer. Would benefit greatly if it was a little taller and had more length. Continued development of backside pursuit important. Has to show he can stack and shed consistently. Ability to run with running back in coverage a question. Multi-year starter at Top 15 program. Should develop into a mid-round NFL draft choice.
WHERE TENNESSEE’S OUTGOING TRANSFERS THIS CYCLE ARE HEADED