Willis and his father informed the coaching staff of their decision on Thursday morning.
“It’s a sad situation because, maybe for those of you that didn’t know, Brandon lost his mother," Davis told reporters following practice. "She passed away recently – less than a year ago – and they’ve gone through some family hardships and some family difficulties… His father has been looking for employment and was informed yesterday that he was able to find a job.
"The unfortunate thing is that he found a job in Southern California and that he really is adamant about trying to keep his family together. He’s asked both of his sons to join him in moving out there. That’s all that we really know at this time. We’re glad for his father that he was able to find work and get a job in this economy. Brandon’s a good kid and we wish him the best.”
Willis' father confirmed his son will transfer to UCLA.
“It's a family thing, and we have to take advantage of the opportunity we have,” Gary Willis told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. “I can't say anything bad about UNC. North Carolina is my home. It was just about my family.”
The Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes defensive tackle switched his college destination in January from Tennessee to North Carolina after learning of head coach Lane Kiffin's decision to leave Knoxville for Southern California. He arrived and enrolled at UNC on Jan. 13.
The U.S. Army All-American was rated as Scout.com's No. 8 defensive tackle nationally in the 2010 recruiting class. His other finalists were UCLA and Miami.