Josh Sills Says He’s More Comfortable In His Second Season As A Starter For WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia sophomore offensive guard Josh Sills has always been a big man with elite athletic skills. Now in his second year as a starter for the Mountaineers, he’s adding experience to go with that skill set
“Josh is an amazing athlete for someone his size,” said WVU junior offensive tackle Colton McKivitz. “He moves really well, especially when you consider he is 330 pounds.”
The athletic ability for the 6-foot-6, 330-pound Sills was evident even when he was at Meadowbrook High School, where he handled all the team’s punting and placekicking duties. It’s not often you see a big man with the skill to be a kicker. Sills not only did it, but did it pretty well, averaging 41.9 yards per punt and converting on 69 career extra points, as well as hitting both his field goal attempts as a senior at MHS.
“When I went out for the kickoff, the referee would look at me and say, ‘You’re the biggest kicker I’ve ever seen,’” the sophomore from Sarahsville, Ohio, chuckled.
Sills’ days of kicking the ball for any reason besides a little fun reminiscence are over. Now he’s a full-time offensive lineman.
After redshirting as a true freshman in 2016, Sills saw playing time in all 13 games for the Mountaineers last season, starting 10 of those. He split his time between right guard and left guard. So far this year he’s been pretty much locked in at left guard.
“I don’t mind either side. There’s not really any difference between right guard and left guard,” noted Sills. “The calls are a little different, so you have to pay close attention to the calls. But other than that, there’s no difference.”
It’s those assignments that can trip up young offensive linemen. Depending on the offensive play and then the defensive alignment, there can be upwards of a dozen different options for an o-lineman on every snap. That’s especially true for a guard who is not covered by a defensive lineman, and thus has to be aware of the linebacker movements on the second level. Not only does the individual lineman have to know his assignment, all five guys up front have to be on the same page. One misread leads to a missed block.
“I’m much more comfortable this year than I was at this time last year,” said Sills, who is a member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll as an agribusiness management major. “Last year I was nervous. My footwork was bad; I was stepping all over myself, I’d step the wrong way. But it’s getting a lot better. That’s a big thing for Coach Wick (Joe Wickline) – fundamentals and footwork and that type of thing. I’m getting better.
“Everything has slowed down for me this year,” Sills explained. “I know the offense better, the tracks better, the fits better. So, I can focus more on just playing. Last year I truly didn’t know everything, so when a play was called, I had to think in my mind where to go. This year it’s instinctual. I know what to do without thinking about it.”
And WVU’s line as a whole seeks to make improvements.
“We’re trying to be more aggressive and physical,” said Sills. “There were three or four games last year where we got manhandled. Any of us on the offensive line will tell you that. It was embarrassing, and we took it personal. We used that as motivation this offseason. You can tell the energy and vibe we’ve brought to workouts are different.
“We don’t want a repeat of that,” he added. “The push this offseason has been to be more physical and dominant.”