Florida parts ways with DT Willis _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Team Highlight defensive end Gerald Willis III committed to Florida during the Under Armour Bowl. The Highlights defeated the Nitros 31-21.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida parted ways with defensive tackle Gerald Willis.

The University Athletic Association announced Tuesday that Willis, a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Karr High School in New Orleans, will transfer. Willis, the brother of Alabama safety Landon Collins, will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Willis made headlines for all the wrong reasons this season. He missed the first two games for undisclosed reasons and got into a fight with quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg in October over a pair of cleats.

He was kicked off the sideline at Florida State in November after taking a cheap shot on quarterback Jameis Winston out of bounds.

Willis played in the Birmingham Bowl and forced a fumble at the goal line in a 28-20 win over East Carolina.


co-offensive coordinators Heupel, Norvell fired: In Norman, Okla., Oklahoma fired co-offensive coordinators Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell.

Coach Bob Stoops announced the moves Tuesday and promoted Jerry Montgomery from defensive line coach to co-defensive coordinator.

Heupel won a national championship as a quarterback at Oklahoma in 2000. He became the school’s quarterbacks coach in 2005, then moved up to co-offensive coordinator in Dec. 2010. Norvell joined the staff in 2008 as assistant offensive coordinator and receivers coach.

Texas Tech

Gibbs named defensive coordinator: In Lubbock, Texas, Texas Tech has hired David Gibbs to be its eighth defensive coordinator since 2007.

The university announced Gibbs would be taking over for interim defensive coordinator Mike Smith, who stepped in to replace Matt Wallerstedt after he resigned in September.

Gibbs, who turns 47 on Saturday, leaves Houston after making the Cougars a top-20 defense that led the country in turnovers during his two years there. A Texas Tech spokesman said Tuesday that Gibbs will have a two-year contract worth $550,000 a year.

Cougars’ defensive backs coach Zac Spavital also will join the Red Raiders’ defensive staff.

Gibbs spent nine years in the NFL as a defensive backs coach. He was Minnesota’s defensive coordinator from 1997-2000.


O’Brien ends 40-year coaching career: In Charlottesville, Va., Virginia associate head coach for offense Tom O’Brien is retiring after a 40-year career.

The school announced the move on Tuesday.

O’Brien spent the past two seasons on Mike London’s staff with the Cavaliers, working with the offense and tight ends. He spent 16 seasons before that as a head coach, guiding Boston College from 1997-2006 and N.C. State from 2007-2012. He also spent 15 years as a Virginia assistant.

O’Brien was considering retirement when Virginia brought him back two years ago.

The Naval Academy graduate has combined 115-80 record as a head coach.

His 75-45 record at Boston College was the most wins by a coach in the Eagles’ history and included four nine-win seasons.

O’Brien started his coaching career with George Welsh at Navy.


offensive lineman allen signs: In Fayetteville, Ark., University of Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema has announced the signing of an offensive lineman Josh Allen from Jacksonville, Florida.

Allen signed with Razorbacks, after getting offers from Florida State, Georgia Tech and Mississippi State.

Allen becomes the seventh early signee for Arkansas and will enroll in January.