Journey To WVU Pro Day: David Sills, Kenny Bigelow, Will Grier
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — This is the story of three football players, three West Virginia University football players, each with with the same dream, each on the verge of reaching that dream, but each very different in the route he has taken and where he stands today.
Will Grier is a quarterback.
David Sills V was a quarterback.
Kenny Bigelow never will be a quarterback.
Each has spent his lifetime dreaming becoming NFL players and on Thursday they converged on West Virginia’s Caperton Indoor Practice Facility in front of NFL scouts and coaches who were dangling their dream before them.
Fifteen Mountaineer players took part in different degrees of participation. Gary Jennings, who had tweaked a hamstring the day before, did not participate.
While that didn’t hurt him, it wound up helping little used wide receiver Dominique Maiden, who drew some attention after he was through.
Some had been at the NFL Combine and performed well enough in certain drills that they had made their point.
Some, like linebacker David Long, didn’t test but went through the skill drills.
And then there was Grier, Sills and Bigelow.
Will Grier has always been the Golden Boy, his ticket punched toward the NFL. He has prepped for it since the beginning. A smart, personable, handsome, talented quarterback who was the national high school player of the year, who went to Florida and started as freshman, who transferred to West Virginia and became not a record breaking passer but a solid citizen.
He’s ready to move on to the NFL.
So you ask him, as his day’s work ends, what he will bring to whatever NFL franchise drafts him and this is what he tells you.
“A lot of wins. I’m a winner.”
This, in a way, is part of the new Will Grier, a more boastful Will Grier who showed up at the Combine and proclaimed himself to be the best player in the draft.
Had he seen anything to change his mind?
“Nothing is ever going to sway my attitude about that,” he answered. “I just believe that’s what it takes to be a successful quarterback … to be a successful anything. You have to believe in yourself first.”
In a way, with apologies to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, what Grier was saying to the opponents of whomever drafts him is “the only thing you have to fear is Grier himself.”
Still, with it all, what went by in the past matters little any longer. Now he is proving himself all over again.
“Yes, have to do it again, but you are doing what you love. You continue to prove yourself,” he rationalizes.
Ah, love. Love is so much about Grier. He loves football. He loves his wife. He loves his daughter.
“It’s different,” he said. “I love football. It’s been in my blood. But then you have your actual blood. I have my daughter. That’s different. I love both so much, to be able to play football as a job and provide or my family is really exciting.”
It’s exciting for David Sills V, too, but not as he would have planned it.
He was prodigy as a young quarterback, offered a scholarship by USC when he was 13, recruited at WVU to play quarterback.
But Dana Holgorsen envisioned him as a wide receiver.
Could he switch his dream in mid-sleep, go to be a quarterback and awake a wide receiver?
It wasn’t easy. He transferred to a junior college to take one last crack at QB, discovered that Holgorsen was right, returned to WVU and finished off his final two years as one of the nation’s best wide receivers, a touchdown machine.
Like Grier, he put so much into reaching this point and now he was under the microscope.
That didn’t bother him. He understood the process.
“These teams are going to be making an investment. You have to do something every way you can to put your best foot forward,” he said.
But the investment they made is simply money. He has invested his life, his career, his happiness in this.
“That’s what you try to prove to them, that you have put your all into this,” he said.
All he accomplished is erased and they start all over as they judge him.
“You got to go back to Square One and prove yourself all over again,” he says, almost matter-of-factly.
And so he runs 40s, leaps high, leaps far, lifts weights and goes through endless interviews to study his intelligence, his character, his desire.
Doesn’t bother him.
“It’s something I look forward to doing. I’m confident in myself and my ability,” he said.
Kenny Bigelow is a big man. Barrel-chested, muscular, 308 pounds and now sculpted as he never before was as he’s worked on his body since the season.
He was a 5-star prospect out of high school with 1-star knees. He went to USC and underwent numerous surgeries but fought back, graduated, came to WVU for one last chance.
He played well, but isn’t a sure-fire NFL prospect and knows that.
The NFL didn’t invite him to the Combine, which made this Pro Day so important.
“I knew today was going to make or break me,” he said. “Some guys have a leg up, having gone to the Combine. Not going to the Combine was something I took personally. I wasn’t angry about it but I knew I had to go out and perform and make the best of my situation.”
He watched them perform in the Combine, used it to his advantage.
“I definitely watched the other guys to see what my competition was like, to see how I matched up, what my numbers were compared to some of the top guys,” he said. “That helps. It gives me targets to shoot for and motivation through some of those last dog days getting ready for this.”
But, as he said, this was make or break.
This came with pressure attached.
He didn’t mind.
“Pressure makes diamonds, you know,” he said.
“I wasn’t worried about pressure, but that is in the back of your mind a little bit. When you play this game, you it’s something you have to deal with. A lot of eyes are going to be on you.”
It is, at least or his career and that he has dreamed life or death.
“I have a daughter. I have a family I have to support. This is motivation. This is the biggest interview of my life. I can’t be tired or sore. I have to go out and do it,” he said.
And that’s exactly what he did.