UT safety Jason Hall tackles Texas Tech wide receiver Derrick Willies in the first quarter at AT&T Jones Stadium in Lubbock Saturday November 5, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

BEVO BEAT Football

Top opponents for Texas in 2017, No. 72: Texas Tech WR Derrick Willies

Posted June 22nd, 2017

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The countdown to kickoff is on. Over the 100 days before Texas takes on Maryland, we’re counting down the 100 best players the Longhorns will face in 2017. This series is all about impressing your friends at pregame tailgates and watch parties, so grab a notepad and buckle up.

Who is he?

Texas Tech’s depth at wide receiver is no joke. When it comes to pure talent, Derrick Willies might be the best of the bunch. The former four-star recruit and one of the top junior college prospects in the country has yet to prove it in a Red Raiders uniform, though. Injuries derailed his first season in Lubbock, as he finished with 18 catches for 228 yards and two touchdowns.

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What should the Longhorns watch for?

There’s a ton of athleticism packed into Willies’ 6-foot-3 frame. Injuries have been his biggest hurdle. Staying healthy throughout the spring allowed him to get valuable repetitions with Red Raiders starting quarterback Nic Shimonek, and that trust could prove crucial on fade routes and jump balls. There aren’t a lot of defensive backs who are going to win a battle with Willies in the air.

Past encounters

Willies had his best game of the season against the Longhorns, hauling in three catches for 63 yards.

They said it

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury this spring, speaking about Willies’ progress: “The (receiver) that’s probably come the farthest from last year would be Derrick Willies, just understanding the game. It’s slowing down for him. He just looks like a different player than he was last year.”

Catch up on the series

No. 100: Joel Lanning

No. 99: Tony Nicholson

No. 98: Da’Leon Ward

No. 97: Taylor Martin

No. 96: Kyler Murray

No. 95: Davion Hall

No. 94: Mike Warren

No. 93: Al-Rasheed Benton

No. 92: Carter Stanley

No. 91: Chris Bradley

No. 90: Justin Holmes

No. 89: Alex Barnes

No. 88: Daniel Wise

No. 87: Jesse Aniebonam

No. 86: Cole Walterscheid

No. 85: Shane Cockerille

No. 84: Martell Pettaway

No. 83: David Long

No. 82: Niko Small

No. 81: Cameron Batson

No. 80: Mike Lee

No. 79: Marcelias Sutton

No. 78: Carlos Strickland

No. 77: Anu Solomon

No. 76: Deshaunte Jones

No. 75: Byron Pringle

No. 74: LaQuvionte Gonzalez

No. 73: Zach Sinor

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