A New Beginning For WVU's Sills

  • By John Antonik
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  • April 13, 2017 12:35 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - There is now a postscript to the David Sills V story.
The one-time football prodigy who created national attention when he verbally committed to play quarterback at USC as a seventh-grader saw his dream of becoming a star college quarterback come to an end at El Camino College in Torrance, California.
Sills started playing youth football when he was six, began working with a quarterback trainer when he was nine and then received a scholarship offer a few years later from USC coach Lane Kiffin.
This information, by the way, comes from Sills’ Wikipedia page.
Well, Kiffin got whacked at USC. Sills felt like he was no longer a priority to the Trojans and eventually found his way to West Virginia University as an early enrollee in 2015 after starring at Eastern Christian Academy in Elkton, Maryland.
But at West Virginia, it didn’t take long to see that Sills had a much clearer path to the field as a wide receiver than as a quarterback. He was playing behind starter Skyler Howard and backups William Crest Jr. and Chris Chugunov, but because of his size and athletic ability, he was asked to help out the scout team by playing a little wide receiver.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen liked what he saw, put Sills in the Baylor game, and he eventually made the game-winning touchdown catch in the Mountaineers’ Cactus Bowl victory over Arizona State.
It seemed obvious to everyone - David Sills was now a college wide receiver with an opportunity of becoming a very good college wide receiver.
But Sills couldn’t quite let go of his dream of playing quarterback, and with Florida transfer Will Grier coming aboard last April, any chance Sills had of being moved back under center at West Virginia had ended.
So, he made the decision to transfer to El Camino College to give playing quarterback one more shot.
And, Sills put everything he had into it but it just didn’t work out. When the season was finished, he had only one tepid offer from Ball State to play quarterback.
That’s it.
He sat down with his parents and his quarterback trainer to figure out what to do next. Should he take the Ball State offer? Should he consider walking on somewhere in hopes of earning a scholarship? Or, should he consider switching back to wide receiver where he showed some promise at West Virginia?
Because his options were so limited, he decided to reconsider wide receiver.
“I didn’t have anything. What else was I to do?” Sills said.
The timing wasn’t very good for him either. He wanted to be in school by January to be ready to go for the fall but it was now a dead recruiting period and he had little time to get other schools interested in him as a wide receiver. Boise State showed some curiosity but they didn’t have a lot to go on other than what it was hearing word-of-mouth.
But West Virginia did have a lot to go on, and because he left on such good terms, the door to return was always left open.
“Coach Holgorsen called and told me I needed to come back to West Virginia to play receiver,” Sills said. “I thought about it for like an hour or two and I was like, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’
“It was very difficult, for sure, leaving a tremendous program and not being forced to leave was very hard,” he admitted. “I kind of did it my own way. I took some time to think about it with my parents and I eventually made the decision that was best for me. I tried to go as far as I could with the quarterback deal but it didn’t work out. I’m very happy I left coach Holgorsen on such great terms, because when he called me and said I could come back I was ecstatic and I knew it was God pointing me in this direction.”
For Holgorsen, the decision was pretty straight forward. He’s got a receiver room full of little guys and he needed some bigger players at wide receiver to put some more pressure on defenses. Sills is listed at 6-feet-4, 210, so he provides the size Holgorsen wanted.
Plus, he’s a great kid. He knows the offense and he’s a very underrated athlete.
“I was always kind of an athletic quarterback in high school but they always had me as a pocket passer in Rivals, Scout and stuff like that and my high school coach after my senior year, I remember him saying, ‘I don’t know why they’ve got you listed as a pocket passer? You’re strictly dual-threat. We put you in on defense to play man coverage on receivers,’” Sills said.
Sills worked out with former Mountaineer receiver Daikiel Shorts Jr. in the summertime and he always surprised people with his agility, quickness and athleticism.
Those were the things that led Holgorsen to switch Sills to wide receiver in the first place.
Now, West Virginia has a guy with a quarterback mentality - with outstanding size - cavorting with the receivers.
It’s a win-win for everybody.
“He brings a lot of football knowledge and familiarity with what he’s doing,” Holgorsen explained. “His presence in the huddle is really good. Will Grier brings a lot of the presence aspect to huddle leadership wise and the confidence in having David standing right next to him increases the leadership aspect to what that huddle is.”
That’s good and all, but he’s also got to be able to perform, too. Huddle presence only gets you so far if you’re slow and can’t catch.
“He knows what he’s supposed to do, but to me he’s a little guy in a big guy’s body right now,” receivers coach Tyron Carrier admitted. “He moves like a smaller guy, which makes it even better. You’ve got that element of a guy who can wiggle a little bit on the inside but now you’ve got a bigger body with it.”
And he can make some big catches, too, as he once did to beat the Sun Devils out in Arizona a year and a half ago.
The final chapter on this one-time child quarterbacking prodigy may have been written out in California, but this is far from the end of the story. In many ways, it’s just another beginning for Sills - one he has now fully embraced.
“I wanted to continue my dream and I didn’t want to look back when I was 35 and wish I would have done this,” Sills admitted. “Who knows where it would have taken me? I did it in junior college and I realized that wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. I was supposed to play receiver, but I gave it everything I could and I don’t need to look back when I’m 35 and regret it.”