As the XFL 3.0 debut fast approaches, we’ve continued to uncover nuggets surrounding what the road ahead holds. Ryan Willis is no stranger to spring football, and appears to be a part of the league’s future.
To backtrack a bit, the XFL hired Jordan Palmer over the summer to assist in quarterback development. Right now, Palmer is working with several familiar faces (i.e. DeAndre Francois, Brandon Silvers, etc.) to prep them for 2023. Willis is in this group – and, according to Mike Mitchell – has been assigned to the St. Louis franchise.
Of course, we are looking forward to seeing the Battlehawks name being revealed…but that’s a story for another time. Right now, let’s take a look at Ryan Willis, and what he can bring to the team based on previous experience.
Willis started his college years at Kansas, playing for them during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. During that tenure, he showed quite a bit of potential – but struggled to find consistency. He threw for 2,530 yards and 11 touchdowns; however, only completed 54% of his passes and tossed 17 interceptions.
It wasn’t until his 2018 season at Virginia Tech when Willis put himself on the map. In 12 games, Ryan racked up 2,716 passing yards and 24 touchdowns.
Virginia Tech ANSWERS‼️
What a DIME from Ryan Willis😳💰
Virginia Tech ties the game 7-7 vs Boston College. pic.twitter.com/8vdmzxDsgR
— Sideline CFB (@SidelineCFB) August 31, 2019
After his career at Virginia Tech, Willis set his sights on the NFL, but was undrafted coming out of college.
That wouldn’t stop him, however, as he’s had quite the journey so far. Ryan Willis was signed to the Chicago Bears practice squad in August of 2021. It was his first time signing with an NFL team, and he spent about a year with the organization, before being released this summer.
Views from Mini-Camp 🐻⬇️ pic.twitter.com/0tmXEBS7S3
— Ryan Willis (@RyanWillis14) April 22, 2022
That being said – the Bears opportunity likely would not have made itself present had it not been for The Spring League. For those unfamiliar with the TSL, it was a developmental league that played a full season the spring of 2021.
Ryan Willis & The Spring League
Ryan Willis played for Hal Mumme and the Linemen in 2021. They ran through the North Division, finishing with a 5-1 record. The Linemen ended up winning the Mega Bowl against the Jousters, crowning themselves as TSL Champions.
2021 TSL Mega Bowl Champions & MVP.
Thank you to my teammates and @TheSpringLeague for the chance to compete.
Excited to see what happens next… pic.twitter.com/dNqX8f5ujJ
— Ryan Willis (@RyanWillis14) June 19, 2021
Willis was key to the team’s victories, seeing plenty of success in the Mumme Air-Raid Offense. Ryan balled out week after week. One of his most electrifying performances came in week four, against the Conquerors.
The Linemen came away with a 46-39 victory, as Willis tore up the opposing secondary on almost every possession. He finished the night with 444 passing yards, and four touchdowns.
In week six against the Alphas, Willis led a comeback campaign as the Linemen won 27-19. This clinched the team a spot in the Championship, as Willis threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns.
The Spring League eventually named Willis MVP for the 2021 season, and for good reason. In just six games, he threw for 1,680 yards and 13 touchdowns. His efficiency was absolutely sensational, finding his receivers in a solid rhythm time and time again. Willis fit in perfectly with a pass-heavy system like Hal Mumme’s.
He left no doubt.
The #TSL2021 MVP is Linemen QB Ryan Willis (@RyanWillis14)! ⚡️
🎨: @AlmanzaStudioz pic.twitter.com/18EUhBxdW6
— The Spring League 🏈 (@TheSpringLeague) June 24, 2021
Due to the exposure that the TSL provided him with, Willis landed himself on the Chicago Bears practice squad. Now, the scene for Willis is a bit different – as he prepares to showcase his talents to the nation in the XFL next spring.
As previously mentioned, Willis is working with Jordan Palmer and the XFL to play for the league in 2023. While he isn’t guaranteed to be a week one starter, Ryan is in a solid position to make a positive impression.
With Mike Mitchell’s recent report, Willis has been assigned to the XFL’s St. Louis team. If this turns out to be true, Ryan will be one of three quarterbacks to play for Anthony Becht in St. Louis.
Willis clearly brings a lot to the table, which is why he is such an intriguing prospect heading into 2023. His size, strong arm, and increased accuracy makes him into a potential starter for multiple XFL teams. However, if he’s already designated to play with St. Louis – then, it would make sense to see him suit up for the franchise at some point during the season.
In 2021, Willis proved that he has what it takes to take a professional football team to the top. The Linemen relied on his skills and leadership to guide them to a TSL Championship. Without a doubt, this experience can only boost his performances in the XFL.
Trophies 🏆#TSL2021 | @aa7ron pic.twitter.com/BAlhzIcz01
— The Spring League 🏈 (@TheSpringLeague) June 23, 2021
Right now, this is all speculation. We haven’t made it to training camp yet – let alone, have an XFL draft. The timeline for the league is still uncertain. With that in mind, if all goes well for Willis over the next few months, he could be playing for a Championship in St. Louis come February.
Do you want to see Ryan Willis play in St. Louis? How do you think he would fare in the XFL in 2023? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!