Rounding out this week’s profile snapshots of former Texas Tech Red Raiders currently playing in the United States Football League (USFL) is 27-year-old Derrick Willies.
Willies, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound wide receiver out of Banning, California, was selected by the Tampa Bay Bandits in the 14th round of the 2022 USFL Draft.
He began his college career at Iowa (redshirt in 2013 and freshman in 2014) and then spent his sophomore season at Trinity Valley Community College (2015) before transferring to Texas Tech.
As a junior for the Red Raiders in 2016, Willies racked up 288 yards on 18 receptions through eight games (two touchdowns); as a senior in 2017, the wide receiver garnered 304 yards on 18 catches in seven games with three touchdowns (he missed the last six games of the season).
After signing as an undrafted free agent with the Cleveland Browns on May 4, 2018, Willies made his NFL debut on Sept. 9, 2018, hauling in his first career catch (a 13-yard reception) and also helping to secure a team win with a 39-yard reception late in that contest to setup a game-winning field goal.
Unfortunately, Willies fractured his collarbone at a team practice on Oct. 13, 2018, and was placed on injured reserve before being waved on Aug. 31, 2019, and placed on the Browns practice squad (after his contract expired in Jan. 2020, he was later re-signed to the Browns practice squad in Nov. 2020 before signing a reserve contract on July 31, 2021). Willies was waived from Cleveland’s reserve list on Feb. 17, 2022.
Bringing us to the 2022 USFL season, where thus far for the Bandits, Willis has 20 yards on two receptions (five targets through four games).
Fun facts: Willies won state track and field titles in the 110-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles and 300-meter dash while a student at Rock Island High School (Illinois). He was also an All-Conference wide receiver and was named to the National Junior College Athletic Association All-America First Team in his lone season at Trinity Valley CC in 2015.
Due up next for Willies and the Tampa Bay Bandits (3-3, 3rd place in South): a showdown against the New Jersey Generals (5-1, 1st place in North) on Saturday, May 28 at 11 am Central Time on USA.
Due up next in a series of USFL profile snapshots: a closer inspection of the former Texas Christian University (TCU) players currently in the league.