Brandon Reilly Retires From Football

Wide receiver Brandon Reilly of the Nebraska Cornhuskers reacts after making a catch
Steven Branscombe / Getty Images

Brandon Reilly has officially called it a career. The former Nebraska football star announced on Twitter that he was retiring from the sport.

The receiver began his statement by saying “football started as something fun to do.”

He went on to talk about his rise from walk-on with the Huskers to making the NFL as an undrafted free agent. He also thanked former coaches and teammates who he said made him a better player over the course of his career.

Reilly closed his retirement statement by talking about late former teammate Sam Foltz. Foltz was a punter for the Huskers during the receiver’s days in Lincoln. Just before what would have been both players’ senior season, the punter was killed in a car accident. Reilly mentioned a conversation the two had during a dinner in college in which they both said one of them “had” to make it to the league. The receiver said he hoped he made Foltz proud by accomplishing that goal.

While Reilly started his career at Nebraska as a walk-on, he earned a scholarship before his sophomore season. It wasn’t until his junior year that he became a real weapon for the Huskers. In 2015, he played in all 12 games and caught 40 passes for 754 yards and four touchdowns. Injuries marred his senior season, but he still finished his Cornhuskers career averaging more than 18 yards per catch.

After leaving Nebraska, Reilly wasn’t drafted but did sign a contract with the Buffalo Bills as a UDFA. After he had a productive fall camp, some analysts believed he’d be able to make the opening day roster. Falling short of that, he was eventually signed to the Bills practice squad and then activated onto the full roster in December of 2017. He never saw action for the team in the regular season and was eventually cut.

Reilly spent the next few years bouncing around various NFL rosters and practice squads before deciding to try another route. This past winter, he signed with the St. Louis Battlehawks of the XFL, and, alongside former Nebraska teammate De’Mornay Pierson-El, formed a potent one-two punch for one of the better teams in the league. Any chance Reilly had of finding his way back to the National Football League via the XFL ended when the fledgling league’s season was cut short by the coronavirus outbreak.

Not long after the XFL announced an end to its season, the league folded entirely. Pierson-El and other former teammates did manage to sign new contracts in the NFL, but it appears no one came calling for Reilly, finally prompting his official retirement.