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UCLA football: Brandon Willis working on returning to the Bruins

August 29, 2011 |  2:15 pm

 Logo_300 Defensive tackle Brandon Willis is crisscrossing the country one more time, saying he intends to return to UCLA this fall.

Willis, who left North Carolina last month, was at the Bruins' practice Monday, observing. He said he will complete administrative requirements this week so he can return to school.

He said he will also request a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play this season. Willis, who has four years of eligibility remaining, was to meet with Coach Rick Neuheisel on Monday about the waiver.

"I'm planting roots now," Willis said. "This is where I want to be. Coach Neuheisel has welcomed me back with open arms."

Willis has made the rounds during a college career in which he has yet to play a down. If he can cover the field as well as well as he has covered the country, he will end up an all-American.

As a senior at Byrnes High School in Duncan, S.C., Willis was ranked as the seventh-best defensive tackle in the nation by He committed to Tennessee, then signed with North Carolina and was to be part of the Tar Heels 2010 recruiting class.

But Willis transferred to UCLA last summer and sat out as a redshirt. He left UCLA prior to spring practice, saying he wanted to return to North Carolina to be near his grandmother, who was facing surgery.

"My grandmother is fine now; she has had her surgeries," Willis said. "This move is for me. Not even my dad is coming out here."

Willis said that he did not leave North Carolina the second time because Coach Butch Davis was fired.

"I had some differences with my position coach," Willis said. "I couldn't see staying there."

Willis said that "North Carolina would not allow me to transfer to another Atlantic Coast Conference school or any school in the South." But he said he was already considering UCLA.

"I thought about playing at an I-AA school, where I could be eligible," Willis said. "But I think I belong on this level."


Commentary: College football turns itself in to authorities

USC football: NCAA President Mark Emmert addresses questions about Trojans

 -- Chris Foster

Photo: UCLA Logo