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David Sills: From QB Prodigy to Biletnikoff Watch List



David Sills
Lawrence Journal World

Despite every twist and turn his journey has provided, David Sills has found himself in the spotlight once again. Just over six years ago, his name littered the front pages of newspapers across the country as a 13-year-old quarterback who committed Southern California and its former head coach Lane Kiffin. ESPN considered the 7th grader’s decision newsworthy and Good Morning America hosted a young Sills on its show within days of his controversial commitment.

He was labeled a phenom, a freak of nature, mature beyond his years. And now, you can add his name to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List.

It almost didn’t happen. Although he was once defined as having the purest mechanics a 13-year-old can have, Sills’ progress as a quarterback stalled. In the years following, Kiffin was fired from USC and new head coach Steve Sarkisian announced he would “honor” Sills’ offer before being replaced himself. In 2014, Sills backed off his commitment to the Trojans before West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen came calling after seeing him play while recruiting his former teammate Dakiel Shorts. Shorts and Sills both signed with the Mountaineers later that year.

Struggling to crack the two-deep as a quarterback, Sills found playing time on the scout team as a speedy and sure-handed receiver for the Mountaineers. It wasn’t until defensive coordinator Tony Gibson suggested he make the move permanent that he began toying with the idea of catching footballs rather than spinning them. It wasn’t until week 7 against Baylor before Sills agreed to play receiver for Holgorsen. He finished that game with a touchdown grab and would haul in the game-winning score in the Cactus Bowl against Arizona State to conclude the season.

Even then, he still considered himself a quarterback.

Sills made his intentions known after his name appeared at both the quarterback and receiver positions during spring practice last season. All his life he had been groomed to be a quarterback. It didn’t matter than Holgorsen felt he could eventually be catching footballs as a professional one day. He felt like he needed to try to live out that dream. Sills eventually left Morgantown and transferred to El Camino Junior College in California. Once again, another bump in the road dismantled those dreams when no Power 5 schools wanted him when it came time to make the jump back to the division one level. Not as a quarterback at least. As time winded down, the decision became clear. It was as a receiver he had a future in football and not behind center.

Today, Sills has finally buried his dreams of being a quarterback. Holgorsen kept his word and left the same door Sills walked out of two years ago open just in case the prodigy changed his mind. Sills did just that and without a lengthy track record of training as a pass-catcher and only 4 games into his first season, Holgorsen himself couldn’t have predicted things to be this good. Not only has Sills contributed, he has turned into one of the best receivers in college football.

After four games, Sills leads the nation in receiving touchdowns with 7 and is 16th in the country in receiving yards with 393. More impressive is how he is getting it done. It’s not by chunk play after chunk play. It’s by being open on nearly every route he runs thanks to his athleticism and speed. For his efforts, Sills was recently added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch list, an award given annually to the best receiver in college football.

Above all else, Sills has been consistent. He’s been reliable. There’s a long road ahead for Sills if he intends to take home the Biletnikoff Award and an even longer trek ahead if he plans on eventually playing on Sundays.

Luckily, overcoming obstacles in order to become successful is nothing new to the junior play-maker.


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