Every football player’s dream is to play professional ball in some setting. Most players who do not get into the NFL still have a chance to play past their collegiate careers. The Spring League is a new semi-professional developmental league for the NFL and potential roster players. Former Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Ryan Willis is among the players looking to make a name for himself in the Spring League.
Willis transferred from the University of Kansas in 2017, where he sat out a year due to the NCAA transfer rule. Willis played 16 games for the Jayhawks as he threw for 2,530 yards and 11 touchdowns and 17 interceptions on 236 completions on 432 passing attempts. As a Hokie, Willis threw for 3,622 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions on 285 completions out of 481 passing attempts.
His best season was in 2018, where he threw for 2,716 yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions on 213 completions (out of 364 passing attempts). He was also a tenacious dual-threat quarterback as he rushed for 354 yards and four touchdowns on 113 rushing attempts. He finished third in the ACC in the touchdown-to-interception ratio that season.
After a tough 2019 season and 2020 not playing football, he found himself playing in the developmental Spring League. As the starting quarterback for the North Division, Linemen, the team accumulated a 5-1 overall record. Willis led the league in passing yards (1,680 yards) and touchdowns (13). Willis earned TSL 2021 MVP against some stellar competition from former NFL players and former high-caliber collegiate stars. Finally, he also finished as the North Division’s player of the week for week three.
Willis would help his talented Linemen team to the TSL Championship game called the Mega Bowl against the Jousters on Saturday, June 19th. After a tough battle through turnovers on both sides of the ball, Willis help the Linemen beat the Jousters with a 26-23 score. Willis threw for 167 yards and two touchdowns on 23 completions (out of 37 passing attempts).
Willis has found himself on top of a developmental football league that looks to sticks around. The Spring League looks to learn from the mistakes of the AAF and the XFL. The AAF dissolved midway through the 2019 spring season due to improper investors. The XFL dissolved last spring season as a result of the devasting effects of COVID-19.
As players continue to develop on and off the field, they will get a better chance of getting on an NFL roster than trying out for a practice squad spot. Willis is in a great position where he continues his stellar play on the field could potentially earn a training spot competition spot. If Willis returns for the Linemen next season, they will likely be favorites to win the 2022 TSL Mega Bowl.