WVSports - Time stands Sills: A look at the JUCO season of David Sills Part 3
football Edit

Time stands Sills: A look at the JUCO season of David Sills Part 3

SUBSCRIBE today to stay up on the latest in Mountaineer sports and recruiting.

READ: Time stands Sills Part 1 and Part 2

Today, we wrap up our three-part series covering West Virginia wide receiver David Sills's journey through his lone season at junior college.

Last week, we recapped what the regular season had in store for El Camino and what the recruiting process was like for Sills.

This week, we take an in-depth look at some of the early signs that pointed to a reunion between Sills and West Virginia, what coaches didn't see coming and reflections from both Sills and El Camino's coaches.

Early signs of a reunion between Sills and West Virginia

Signs of a potential reunion between Sills and West Virginia could be seen throughout El Camino’s season.

One of the first ones to recognize these early signs was Jessica Huether, who allowed Sills to stay with her and her husband, James, in the South bay which was closer to El Camino’s campus. Before, Sills lived with his friend/old high school teammate and then-USC football player Khaliel Rodgers in Los Angeles.

Huether also worked for private quarterback coach Steve Clarkson and helped organize all of the training for him and managed clients as well.

When El Camino offensive coordinator Tim Kaub heard from Huether that Sills was in talks with West Virginia about coming back, he was able to recall Sills still being personally invested in the Mountaineer program throughout El Camino’s season due to the friendships and bonds he had built in Morgantown during his freshman season.

“I remember David was checking the stat line of every game rooting for his teammates every Saturday. He would tell me who did well who didn’t do well. He basically watched every game from afar,” Kaub said. “When I heard that, there was this moment of ‘that might be the best thing for him’ because he’s established a familial bond with those guys. Maybe that’s where he feels comfortable and where he feels comfortable he can go play.”

A calmer and more content Sills, who had already committed to returning to the Mountaineers, sat down with Kaub and his offensive assistants during El Camino’s exit meetings.

Kaub was almost apologetic towards Sills due to things not working out as he had hoped for him when it came to playing quarterback.

“Our goal is to get everyone signed somewhere and hopefully their play dictates where that is but I could kind of see a relaxation that he hadn’t had all year and it started to build halfway through the season where he played like he realized he was operating without a net from a recruitment standpoint,” Kaub said.

During the meeting, Sills expressed his thankfulness and appreciation towards the coaches, a testament to his character and integrity.

“He left that situation with class and didn’t blow up the spot and that’s why he had the option of coming back,” El Camino head coach Gifford Lindheim said. “You don’t see that too often but I think that’s a credit to the kind of person David is and how he handled the situation. Credit to Coach (Dana) Holgorsen to bring him back.”

Things may not have worked out for Sills as planned but his JUCO experience provided him with some closure when it came to him playing quarterback. He tried again, it didn’t pan out and he had laid it all on the line, but he still had a way out and he was soon about to head home once again.

“There was also a look of calm like he shot his shot and it didn’t work out the way he wanted but he still had a lifeline, he still had a way out, he still had a way to get through,” Kaub said. That gave me a sense of calm myself like you know what, this kid is going to be fine. He’s going to go to West Virginia and he’s going to be fine.”

What no one saw coming

Sills’s return to the Mountaineers saw him burst onto the national scene yet again, but this time, it was for catching passes, not throwing them.

An impressive performance between him and quarterback Will Grier in the spring game gave everyone a glimpse of what was to come during the 2017 season.

Sills and Grier became one of the best quarterback-wide receiver duos in all of college football as Grier threw for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns during the 2017 season with Sills accounting for 980 of those yards on 60 catches to go along with 18 touchdown receptions, which tied for the most in the country that season.

After being named a Biletnikoff Award finalist (awarded to the country’s best wide receiver) at the end of that season, Sills followed it up with a strong 2018 campaign, catching 61 passes for 896 yards and 15 touchdowns on his way to earning numerous postseason accolades.

If you would’ve asked El Camino’s coaches or just about anybody, no one would’ve said they saw all of this success coming after Sills left El Camino.

“I knew he would be O.K.,” Kaub said. “O.K. might have been eight touchdowns, 10 touchdowns. If I would’ve told you he was going to go be a Biletnikoff finalist, I would’ve been a liar. There’s no way I would’ve seen that. And that’s not because I doubt David’s abilities, I just had never seen him primarily as wide receiver.”

“It’s funny, we had a hail mary package and in that I put David because he was one of our best athletes, as our jump ball hail mary guy, but that’s all I ever saw of him playing wide receiver. I didn’t see him running routes, I never got to see any of that,” he added.

According to Lindheim, Sills’s success at West Virginia epitomizes his strong work ethic and attitude. In other words, placing any sort of doubt on Sills is just more motivation for him and in the end, you will be proven wrong.

“You stop putting things past him and putting limits on what he’s capable of because he doesn’t pay attention to them anyway,” Lindheim said. “He just goes about his work. Stop telling David what he can and cannot do, he’s just going to figure it out and find his way.”

Coaches, Sills look back and reflect

One of the most important takeaways from Sills’s journey is the example it sets for JUCO prospects and players everywhere.

Every journey is different but Sills’s story alone is a message to JUCO players everywhere to be persistent, selfless and to never give up on their dreams of playing Division I college football, even if it means giving up a position you’ve dreamed of playing at the highest level your whole life.

It’s those same characteristics that will continue to make Sills successful both on and off the field moving forward according to Lindheim.

“What David was able to accomplish was you can go to a junior college and out of a junior college like El Camino, you can achieve the highest level. Less than two years ago, he was at a non-scholarship junior college sleeping on a couch and now he’s one of the best receivers in college football and a NFL prospect,” Lindheim said.

“Long after football David’s going to be successful in life. I don’t know what it’s going to be but football, in my opinion, will never define David even if he has a long NFL career. He’s that type of person, he has that type of mind that his football career will just be part of his bigger life.”

Sills’s journey through junior college also showed that finding your college destination can be challenging but sometimes, all it takes is another experience elsewhere to find where you truly belong.

“It’s awesome for these guys to find a home coming from a junior college and it took him leaving home to find out how important home was and everyone’s journey is different,” Kaub said. “I honestly think it helped David settle in and realize what he’s great at and what he can be great at and embracing it.”

“His victory is a victory for a lot of people. His victory is a victory of his own journey, but also a victory for all the JUCO guys. We were in a year one program launch that didn’t do well but still part of that journey helped propel other guys,” he later added.

For Sills himself, this JUCO season helped him fulfill one last chance to become what he had once desired to be and focus his mind on to the bigger picture.

“It taught me how to be persistent and resilient through the ups and the downs of football because football does give you a lot of adversity,” Sills said. “It ended up putting the quarterback position behind me and I feel like if I would’ve stayed here from when I was a freshman, I wouldn’t have been able to get quarterback fully out of my system.”

“God had other plans for me. That really opened my eyes to that.”

Enter the contest by clicking on the following link and choosing to subscribe to the channel: http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=VideoGlide