Darius Stills’ Illustrious WVU Career Likely Winding Down

Sep 12, 2020; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers defensive lineman Darius Stills (56) and linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo (7) and defensive lineman Dante Stills (55) lead players out during warmups prior to their game against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The clock is ticking for Darius Stills.

The Mountaineer senior defensive lineman can count on one hand the number of college football games left in his career … and he’d have a couple fingers unused.

It’s true that the NCAA is not counting the 2020-21 athletic year against the eligibility for any fall or winter sport student-athletes. So Stills could return next season if he wanted, but it seems clear that his plan is to give pro football a shot when the 2020 campaign comes to a close.

He almost declared for the NFL draft last year, but ultimately decided to return to WVU for his senior campaign.

It’s a decision that has paid handsomely for both Stills and the Mountaineers.

The recognition Darius has gotten this year has been wide ranging, starting with being named the Big 12 Preseason defensive player of the year and recently being listed as a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award.

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The 6-foot-1, 285-pound senior has three and a half sacks and six and a half tackles for loss through WVU’s first eight games this season, to go along with 19 total tackles. Those are numbers any nose tackle would be proud of, but they haven’t yet reached last year’s 12-game stats when he had 47 tackles, seven sacks and 14.5 TFLs.

Of course Darius is the focus of every opposing blocking scheme this year, meaning he’s often double-teamed. That has put a crimp in his individual stats, but it’s helped the WVU defense overall, allowing linebackers like Tony Fields (79 tackles) to run free and make plays.

“I’m doing OK, but I still have a lot I can do. They are scheming off me and Dante (Stills) a lot, so it’s kind of difficult at times to make plays,” noted Darius, referring to his younger brother who starts beside him at defensive tackle. “Other guys are making plays, though, so that’s all that matters.”

As a whole, West Virginia’s defense has been outstanding this season. Among FBS teams that have played at least six games, WVU is in the top eight nationally in passing yards allowed (161.5, 1st), total yards allowed (274.0, 2nd) and points allowed (17.8, 8th). It also is atop the Big 12 in each of those categories. The only outlier is rushing defense, where WVU is 12th in the NCAA among teams with six or more games and third in the Big 12 at 112.5 yards per game.

“The defense has played very well. We can always do better, but we’ve played well,” stated Stills. “We’re the top defense in the nation and the Big 12. We’ve got to keep pounding it, though, and keep doing better.”

Darius and Dante lead a contingent of five Fairmont Senior (W.Va.) High grads who are now “Mountain Bears.” Besides the Stills brothers anchoring WVU’s defensive line, true freshman Zach Frazier has earned a starting spot at offensive guard, while Jake Abbott and Rhett Heston are backup linebackers.

“We all have a chip on our shoulder,” Darius said of the Fairmont athletes. “Whether it’s basketball, baseball, football or golf, we preach excellence and it’s happened.”

Those former Polar Bears – and most of the other current Mountaineers as well – have taken Darius’ lead when it comes to effort.

“We use two different terms – working hard and competing. Everybody works hard, but to compete, that’s different,” he said.

A defensive lineman who plays hard will often force opposing offensive linemen to take matters into their own hands – literally. Darius doesn’t only get double-teamed regularly, but he’s often held.

“Getting held is kind of a compliment,” stated the fourth-year senior. “Their coaches tell those o-linemen to hold in order to stop us. They do whatever they can to stop us. Dante will complain sometime to the refs. ‘They’re holding! They’re holding!’ I tell him the offense has to do that, because it’s the only way they can stop you. We came to that realization real quick. It’s a compliment, I guess, but it does get irritating as well. As long as my other teammates make plays, that’s all that matters.”

West Virginia defensive lineman Darius Stills exhorts teammates to keep the pressure on
West Virginia defensive lineman Darius Stills exhorts teammates to keep the pressure on.

Stills has put together a heck of a college career, but he still wants more.

“I’m never really satisfied,” he explained. “I always want to improve more and more. But I have gotten everything I’ve wanted out of college football. I came up here nervous, expecting big things but you never really know. I’m living the dream right now, and I’m excited about the next chapter of my life, where ever that takes me.”

That next chapter will likely be an attempt to make an NFL roster next season. While Stills could return to WVU for a repeat senior season in 2021, he’s often hinted that he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps, as Gary Stills was a 10-year NFL veteran (1999-2008 with the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and St. Louis Rams).

When asked whether he’s headed to the pros after this season, Darius wasn’t quite ready to make such a statement to the media just yet, but the odds are his Mountaineer days are winding down.

“It’s a personal decision, and I’ll do what’s best for myself and my family,” he said. “I’m just focusing on what’s happening right now, and I’ll save any decisions until after the season.”

His family has been a big part of ever step Darius has made. He and Dante obviously have been side by side on the field and in life. His father is well remembered for his days in the NFL and as a Mountaineer star (1996-98).

Through it all, though, his mother, Janeen Floyd, has been a huge supporter, just as she has for Dante and their younger brother, DaeShaun.

Certainly their father’s DNA has helped Darius and Dante, but don’t discount their mother’s input.

“My mom gets very excited,” Darius said. “She loves us and lives football through us. I can hear her yelling during some of these games (with smaller crowds). I can’t always make out what says, but I try even harder when I hear her.

“I get my attitude from her; we both have a stubborn attitude. If she were a football player, nobody could stop her. She’d rip your head off.”

It couldn’t have been easy for Janeen raising a pair of rough-and-tumble boys who were only a year apart, each of whom wound up becoming a college defensive lineman.

“We didn’t fight that much, but we did argue,” recalled Darius of he and Dante’s youthful interactions. “I do remember one time when we were wrestling in the living room, and I threw Dante against the wall, and it make a huge, gaping hole in the wall.

“We really didn’t fight that much, though. Our mom didn’t like it if we fought. She didn’t mind the arguing as much, because that’s what siblings do, but she made it clear we could not put our hands on our brother.

“I really remember only one fight. I was in eighth grade and I came home after having a bad day. Dante came home and just was talking and talking and talking, so we got into a fight. My mom came in from outside and started beating us both. That was the last time we fought.”

They couldn’t fight each other off the field, but the Stills brothers certainly have done a lot of legal combat on the field.

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Home Page forums Darius Stills’ Illustrious WVU Career Likely Winding Down

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