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January 2, 2014

Four-star Willis III headed to Florida

MORE: Complete UA All-America Game coverage

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- After it looked like he was staying close to home for months, New Orleans (La.) Edna Carr defensive end Gerald Willis III shocked the crowd at Thursday's Under Armour All-American Game, committing to Florida over longtime favorite LSU.

The nation's No. 49 overall player chose the Gators over LSU and Texas A&M, two schools he visited earlier this year and the two that looked to have the leg up for most of his recruitment.

In the end, he followed the path of his brother, Landon Collins and chose to leave his home state in order to play at the next level. Florida's history and the chance to play early in his career put the Gators over the top.

"I'm taking my talents to Gainesville, Fla.," said Willis, with his mother, April Justin, looking on.

Justin was famously disappointed that Collins chose Alabama over LSU, and she didn't hide her disappointment Willis III isn't going to LSU.

"It is what it is," she said. "Florida Gators is where we'll be. But LSU is still No. 1."

In the end, Willis' relationship with the Florida coaching staff put the Gators over the top.

"It feels like home and it feels like a family. I love the team,' Willis said. "They're really cool, and Derek Lewis has been recruiting me since the ninth grade and that's why they're still in it."

Woody Wommack is a Southeast Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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