Ferentz on possible Derrick Willies return: 'News to me'

Rick Brown

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Wide receiver Derrick Willies told HawkeyeReport.com Tuesday that he intends to return to the Iowa football team.

But Willies' decision to come back, after departing the last week of October, was apparently a surprise to Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.

"That's news to me," Ferentz said when asked about Willies' announcement during the weekly Big Ten teleconference Tuesday. "Whatever site that was on, I must have missed it. We've actually been trying to get ready for this game (Saturday against Wisconsin)."

Iowa freshman receiver Derrick Willies reaches out for a pass completion in the season opener vs. UNI. He caught a fourth-quarter TD pass a week later against Ball State.

Asked if Willies would be welcomed back, Ferentz said, "It's a hypothetical. Right now, and I hope you can understand this, I'm really focused on Wisconsin. Late breaking news, I just heard it three minutes ago. It's probably fair to say for the next 11 days I'll be thinking about the teams we're playing. That's where my thoughts are right now."

Willies told HawkeyeReport.com., "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."

When Willies left the team, he told Ferentz he wanted to be closer to his father, who was dealing with health issues.

Willies, a redshirt freshman from Rock Island, Ill., played in five games this fall. He caught four passes for 71 yards and a touchdown.