Stills’ Decision Illustrates Strength Of Ties To Family, State, WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The crowd had dispersed that had been gathered around Darius Stills for some time during an early November West Virginia University Tuesday football media session.
That there had been a crowd at all speaks volumes about Darius Stills.
Nose tackles are not normally media darlings, at least not since the Fridge, William Perry, was playing for the Chicago Bears.
They do the dirty work of the defense for the most part, go nose up on the center, fight through double teams and occupy people for the linebackers to come in and steal the glory. You know about Huff and Butkus and Taylor and Nitschke and Lambert and Ray Lewis, but the 300-pounders in the middle traditionally labor in obscurity.
Darius Stills is different, though. He and his brother, Dante, a year and a half younger, make up a matched set of defensive assassins, men who bury ball carriers and eat quarterbacks like you and I eat quarter pounders with cheese.
More than that they are friendly, well spoken, educated and live a strong moral life.
They are role models in an era when that aspect of our life is going the way of 1956 Chevy, a relic of a far more innocent time.
Anyway, as we go back to that moment in the team room at the Puskar Center, as people left Stills for other interviews there was someone who hung behind, an elderly, somewhat disheveled sportswriter who is himself is trying to avoid becoming that 1956 Chevy.
The word had been circulating that Darius Stills was contemplating bypassing his senior season and leaving WVU for the NFL as so many others do these days.
Could this be true, Stills was asked.
As time has passed and the question was asked more for guidance on how to approach what would become a growing story in the next few weeks, not for a story to be written that day, no notes were taken but the answer remained firmly implanted in the memory.
This certainly is not word for word, nor is it meant to be. It is, however, the gist of what Stills said that day.
“I’m not going anywhere. This is where I belong. I want to play another year with my brother. i want to stay with my mother. I love this state. I love this school.”
He was, you could tell, speaking from his heart.
You had to believe him, so as the talk grew in recent days, somehow you knew in the end he would come back, that the draw of family and school and state was too strong and, besides, he just didn’t seem to be the kind of person who started something and left before he finished it.
— Darius C. Stills (@DariusStills56) December 6, 2019
He’d faced such a decision before. Coming out of Fairmont Senior, he was a solid D-1 recruit, but WVU had not come in hard and so it was that he took an offer from, of all schools, Rutgers. It wasn’t that he wanted to play at Rutgers, but at the time WVU was not an option.
A couple of days later they were as Tony Gibson, then the defensive coordinator, said he wanted to talk to him, made him an offer he couldn’t — and wouldn’t — refuse.
This was what he tweeted back in 2016 when he flipped from Rutgers to WVU.
“When I was little I been a WVU football fan my whole life, it was in my blood. My dad played there … and I just been around it my whole life. People always doubted me, through this recruitment, I’ve been proving people wrong a long time, and it makes me play better and makes me a better person. The decision is best for me and my family. Being a Polar Bear was an honor and it still is. I’m always going to be a Polar Bear no matter what. Period.
“The people that believed in me my whole life and never given up on me when I was down, I’m truly thankful for every one of you guys. I would like to thank the Lord, He has given me the athletic ability and opportunity to play Division 1 football in college.
“So now I am extremely excited and blessed to say I am taking my talents to Morgantown, WV, and I am 100% committed to my home state, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY, to join the Mountaineer family.”
It is three years later. Darius Stills has proven himself. He is no longer the brother of Dante but instead he is looked upon as an equal with as bright a future, yet he has held true to his convictions.
The coaches who brought him and his brother into WVU are gone but he is staying to finish the job. He is still his mother’s son and his brother’s brother and proud of his home town, his high school, his college the heritage in got from his father.
He is a good football player, a great person and you don’t say that about too many people who play the games we watch these days.