We know how these stories play out -- we've seen it happen before: player comes to Iowa, player's performances start to generate buzz, fans get excited, player runs into some sort of problem (playing time, legal issues, personal drama, etc.), player leaves Iowa, fans get sad (and/or angry). There's a part of that story we virtually never see happen, though: player returns to Iowa.
And yet, if reports are to be believed, that might be what's about to happen with former Iowa wide receiver (and buzz magnet) Derrick Willies:
Willies announced plans to depart the Iowa program a little less than a month ago, citing a desire to be closer to his father, who was dealing with an undisclosed health issue. There was also chatter that playing time (or rather his lack thereof) contributed to his decision.
So what's changed? I'll let Willies explain, via Hawkeye Report:
"I'm a Hawkeye. I thought I was putting my family first. Only after time did I realize I'm leaving my family here... my team."
"It's a lot to deal all at once when the man you look up to your whole life tells you he only has a little time left. My father is going to move here and I am going to try and get my place back on the team. That's all I have to say on everything."
Well, that's certainly a bit of an about-face, but one that seems understandable, too, particularly if he'll still be able to be near his ailing father. Despite announcing his plans to leave Iowa, Willies apparently did stay enrolled at Iowa and he remains in good academic standing:
Can confirm that Derrick Willies has been in class and has taken care of his academic responsibilities.— marcmorehouse (@marcmorehouse) November 18, 2014
Of course, returning to Iowa isn't just Willies' decision; what does Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz have to say about the possibility?
Speculation that WR Derrick Willies wants to rejoin Iowa program is "news to me," Ferentz says. "We've moved on."— Mitch Sherman (@mitchsherman) November 18, 2014
Oh. Well, that's not exactly a very encouraging statement from Ferentz, re: a possible return. Still, it's entirely possible that this story isn't over yet -- it's already taken a very unexpected turn, so it would probably be a mistake to completely close the book on Willies' return just yet. This will undoubtedly be a topic of discussion during Kirk Ferentz's press conference later today, as well as something that Iowa players are asked about during their media availability. We'll update this story when (if?) we learn more.