Iowa got through its first bye week of the season unscathed. The second bye week of the season is proving a bit more costly for the Hawkeyes. Sophomore linebacker Reggie Spearman was arrested on OWI charges Saturday and suspended "indefinitely" and Monday Derrick Willies indicated via his Instagram account that he's no longer with the Iowa program.
Screenshot via @marcmorehouse; original Instagram available here.
Willies, a redshirt freshman out of the Quad Cities (Rock Island, specifically), emerged this offseason as a potential difference-maker at wide receiver after a pair of standout performances at Iowa's open practices in April and August. However, his impact had been muted so far this season -- just 4 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown (during Iowa's fourth quarter comeback against Ball State, depicted in the picture above), and none at all since a 6-yard reception against Purdue on September 27. Per The Gazette's Marc Morehouse, Willies did not dress against Indiana due to an injury and dressed but did not play against Maryland ten days ago.
Willies' departure comes at a curious time (departures after the season are relatively commonplace, but in-season departures are far more rare) and with no clear rationale. There hasn't been a whiff of legal or disciplinary trouble with Willies and homesickness is unlikely to be an issue for a recruit who grew up a mere 60 miles from Iowa City. Playing time (or rather, his lack thereof) could certainly be a possible explanation, but again -- those departures usually sort themselves out after the season. Willies' involvement in the offense declined throughout the season, but with Damond Powell graduating after this season, there was a clear opening next season in the Iowa offense for "speedy guy who runs deep routes and rarely gets thrown at."
Kirk Ferentz has his regular weekly press conference on Tuesday and he'll surely be asked about Willies' status, so we may find out more about his situation at that time. In the meantime, one of the most promising future contributors to the Iowa offense is gone. Stop me if you've heard this story before. This sucks.
That said, best of luck wherever your path takes you next, Derrick. And please don't use the comments of this post as a platform to disparage Willies' character or insult him. Doing so would be inappropriate under virtually any circumstances, but it's especially inappropriate when we know so little about this situation. There's surely another platform on the interwebs where you can call Willies a "pussy," or a "coward," or a "traitor," or whatever -- but it's not BHGP.