All Derrick Willies wanted was a chance.
The Cleveland Browns are giving the well-traveled former Rock Island and University of Iowa receiver an opportunity, signing the Texas Tech senior to a free-agent contract.
“I’m ready to show them what I can do,’’ said Willies, who is scheduled to participate in the Browns’ rookie camp this week. “My body feels great. I’m in great shape and I’m ready to go there and leave it all on the field.’’
Willies found himself in and out of the lineup for Texas Tech’s receiver-friendly offense over the past two seasons, his playing time limited by injuries and inconsistency.
When healthy, he did show flashes of ability.
Willies, who will earn his undergraduate degree from Texas Tech this month, started nine of the 15 games he appeared in over the past two seasons, catching 36 passes for 592 yards and five touchdowns.
“It came down to having to get it done at pro day and I was able to make that happen,’’ Willies said. “I showed people what I was about. It gave me a shot.’’
Listed at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Willies’ pro day performance included running the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds.
He followed that up by training in California and going through a handful of individual workouts for teams, work which allowed him to move into a position to secure the free-agent deal he agreed to earlier this week.
He will face a challenge in Cleveland’s camp. The Browns drafted two receivers in last week’s NFL draft.
“It’s taken a lot of stops to get to where I’m at, a lot more than I expected, but I always believed in myself,’’ Willies said. “This has always been the goal, to get a chance to play in the NFL and I know I’m not there yet. But, I’m still out there working to make it happen. I’m blessed to be in the position I’m in.’’
Willies landed at Texas Tech after competing one year at Trinity Valley College in Texas following his transfer from Iowa, where he left the team midseason as a redshirt freshman in 2014 after catching four passes for 71 yards and one touchdown.
Willies joined the Hawkeyes after spending a portion of his junior year and his senior year of high school at Rock Island, transferring from Burlington where he earned all-Mississippi Athletic Conference honors.
He won an Illinois Class 3A state championship in the 110-meter hurdles for the Rocks before earning all-state recognition in football as a senior.
Willies is one of two Texas Tech players who began their careers at Iowa to sign free-agent deals this week. Red Raiders quarterback Nic Shimonek signed with the Chargers.