Miami DL Gerald Willis taking leave of absence, won’t play in 2017

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Miami’s defensive line depth has taken an unexpected hit just a couple of weeks prior to the start of summer camp.

The Hurricanes announced via a press release that Gerald Willis will be taking a leave of absence from the football program.  As a result, the defensive lineman won’t be playing football for The U in 2017.

The door for a future return, however, is open, at least for the moment.

“Gerald remains part of the Miami family,”head coach Mark Richt said in a statement, “and may take part in designated team activities.”

Last season, Willis played in nine games for the ‘Canes.  He was credited with 19 tackles, 13 of which were solo, as well as 5.5 tackles for loss.

A transfer from Florida, Willis was forced to sit out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws.  He was also suspended for the 2016 opener for violating unspecified team rules.

Willis left the Gators in January of 2015; a month later, he landed with the Hurricanes.  He subsequently claimed he was actually dismissed by UF head coach Jim McElwain and was seeking what was described as a “run-off waiver” that would’ve given him immediate eligibility; that waiver was denied.

Willis was a four-star member of the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 strongside defensive end in the country.  He played in five games as a true freshman that season.  Willis’ stay at UF was a brief one as, a couple of months after a verbal disagreement over a pair of cleats escalated into a physical altercation with a teammate, it was announced that Willis was leaving the program.