Brayden Willis became quite the sensation on Twitter.
Oklahoma’s multi-talented H-back had to miss multiple games this season for a variety of reasons.
The 6-foot-3, 236-pound Willis was among those absent from the season-opener after a preseason run of COVID-19 chewed into the two-deep, and after returning for a Week 2 loss to Kansas State, Willis missed the next five games with an undisclosed injury.
But on game days, he kept himself busy on social media.
He posted on Twitter seven times during the Sooners’ Oct. 3 loss at Iowa State, just three times during the Texas game on Oct. 10 (including one about crying every day because it hurt so much being unable to play), 11 times during the TCU game on Oct. 24, then 32 times as his teammates were wiping out Texas Tech in Lubbock on Oct. 31. He posted nine times while they played Kansas at home on Nov. 7.
But Willis was glad to report that on Nov. 21, as the Sooners lined up to play Oklahoma State, he was unable to tweet.
Because he was back on the field playing.
“I had a blast two weeks ago,” Willis said this week. “It was great to be back on the field, man. It was a hard time for me not being on the field. I had never missed a game before that. So, that was a little bit different for me. I had a blast. I was having fun being out there with my teammates.”
Willis has just 15 career catches but has three touchdowns and is averaging 15.7 yards per catch. After making a 29-yard grab in 2018, he caught 11 passes for 168 yards and three scores last year. So far this year he has three catches for 38 yards, including one for 15 yards — on the Sooners’ opening drive to set up a first-and-goal — last time out in the Bedlam win.
“Yeah I’m happy for Brayden,” quarterback Spencer Rattler said after the game. “He had a tough month or so out of games, so he’s a great weapon for us at the tight end position. He’s always doing his job, full speed. He’ll block, he can catch, he can run, he can do it all. He’s a big weapon for us, especially with (Austin) Stogner out. Him, (Jeremiah) Hall and Mikey Henderson are a great group of tight ends and they do a lot of different things for us that help our offense.”
For Willis, catching that early pass — just being back on the field — was a tremendous emotional release.
“Every game, I did or almost shed tears when I was out,” Willis said. “It was really hard for me, because I just love ball. But it was so great being out there with my guys. I love them boys, I love our coaching staff. Just being out there, being able to contribute to a win just meant the world to me.
Most of Willis’ tweets showed support of his teammates (he was always fired up for the tight ends and H-backs) or he just remarked briefly on game events. Occasionally, he’d pull back the curtain and show his funny side, or just let everyone know how he was feeling.
“That was a fun aspect about it,” Willis said, “but I think I’ll leave that alone for now. I’m fine playing the game instead of tweeting at home.”
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