Florida coach Will Muschamp knows how hard it is to recruit Louisiana.
He did not land any defensive prospects from there in his three years as an assistant at Texas, a neighboring state, and signed just one in two years as Auburn’s defensive coordinator.
Muschamp has also experienced the flip side, having coached three years at LSU and landed in-state players at will.
But as Florida’s head coach, Muschamp is starting to have success in Louisiana.
Muschamp came close to signing some Pelican State prospects a couple of years ago.
U.S. Army All-American defensive end Jermauria Rasco visited Florida the weekend before signing day before picking LSU in 2011, and four-star linebacker Lorenzo Phillips pledged to UF the following year but later flipped to the Tigers.
“Heck yeah,” Muschamp recently said when asked if it’s hard to beat out LSU for Louisiana recruits.
Prior to Willis, who enrolled at UF earlier this month, it had been 12 years since the Gators signed a prospect from the talent-rich state.
Florida tight ends coach Derek Lewis, a Louisiana native, has helped changed that. He was the primary recruiter for Dillon and Willis.
“Derek Lewis does a fantastic job recruiting,” Muschamp said. “He’s from New Orleans and knows a lot of people there.
“So much of recruiting is trust. Just knowing people and understanding the background in all those situations.”
Dillon and Willis will be huge additions to Florida’s football team. Dillon has 4.4 speed and gives the Gators an electric playmaker for the slot position, while Willis is a versatile lineman who can fill the role of Dominique Easley with his ability to play both end and tackle.
247Sports rated Willis as a five-star recruit and ranks Dillon as the 70th overall prospect and No. 2 player in the state for 2015.
The Gators may not be done this year in Louisiana, either. They’re in contention for cornerback Xavier Lewis, a former LSU commit, and defensive end Isaiah Washington, a current LSU pledge who visited Gainesville in late March.
UF also has cornerback Tre Jackson on board for its 2016 class. He’s the son of former Gator receiver Jack Jackson and committed last summer.
“There’s a lot of good players over there,” Muschamp said. “The University of Florida is an attractive place for a lot of people.”