Hawkeye notes: Willies won't return, injuries and academics

Chad Leistikow

IOWA CITY, Ia. -- Derrick Willies is officially ending his Iowa football career.

The promising wide receiver met recently with head coach Kirk Ferentz about the prospect of returning.

"We've spoken several times. And yeah, he's going to move on," Ferentz said after Monday's practice. "He's going to explore some other options. It does not look like he'll be coming back in January."

Derrick Willies (18) is mobbed by teammates after scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown against Ball State.

Willies was a spring sensation and caught a touchdown pass in Iowa's 17-13 win against Ball State, but for the most part he struggled to gain traction in Iowa's wide-receiver rotation. He ended up with four receptions for 71 yards in five games.

He left the program in late October to spend time with his ailing father but later expressed an interest to return the team. On Ferentz's radio show last week, he said, "The ball's pretty much in Derrick's court" regarding a decision.

Ferentz was asked Monday if there was an ultimatum given to Willies.

"We had a conversation about what I thought was fair," the coach said. "The bottom line was, he gave it some thought and just decided to pursue some other paths."

INJURY UPDATES: Ferentz updated some injury situations Monday in his last meeting with the news media before the team departs on Christmas Day for the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl vs. Tennessee in Jacksonville, Fla. The highlights:

--Senior running back Damon Bullock is out with an unspecified injury suffered against Wisconsin.

--Sophomore running back LeShun Daniels Jr. should be able to play, Ferentz said. Daniels had ankle surgery and missed Iowa's final five games. "I think it's fair to say he'll play, based on what we're seeing so far," Ferentz said. "When he did come back, he's been back a couple workouts, he hasn't looked like he's been out a lot."

--Junior fullback Macon Plewa (shoulder) has a chance to play. Fullback has been a patchwork position for the Hawkeyes this season.

--Ferentz also mentioned that junior linebacker Travis Perry, who missed the final three games with an injury, "has a chance to get back" vs. Tennessee.

ACADEMICS: With finals week in the books, Ferentz didn't anticipate any academic issues impacting any player eligibility.

"When I'll know (for sure), I don't know. That's a question I've asked," Ferentz said. "Usually you have an idea. I don't think we have any ticking time bombs."