WVU’s Sills: “I Want People To Remember I Gave Everything I Had For This Team”
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The thing that sets David Sills V apart from the other college star players in this generation is that he sees himself on a higher moral and social level than they do.
The West Virginia star wide receiver is alone among the four senior stars on the offense of Dana Holgorsen’s team that plays Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl, a meaningless exhibition football game that carries high risk and little return for them in that he is not skipping the game.
Mind you, he doesn’t point fingers at his quarterback Will Grier, his fellow receiver Gary Jennings or offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste for their decisions to bypass what would have been their final college game to prepare for their future lives as NFL players.
But he sees his place in the overall scheme of things not as an individual trying to succeed but as a part of a far bigger universe than just one that resides within a helmet and shoulder pads.
Asked on Wednesday, at a team interview session, how he wanted to be remembered here in West Virginia, his answer opened a window into his soul.
“I want people to remember I gave everything I had for this team, for this university, for this state,” he said. “That’s how I want to leave my mark. I will do everything I can in this last game to finish in the Top 15, Top 12 or Top 10.”
This is about today, not tomorrow to him. It is and always has been about the work and effort he put into first becoming a promising quarterback, then shifting gears in mid-college career when he saw he could not be an outstanding one and turning to receiver.
His dedication to detail, to practice, to film watching and his relationship with others on the team and the coaching staff was legendary.
He was making himself the best football player he could be, partly — maybe even mostly — for the same selfish reasons that we all try to succeed, but also because his success lifted those around him, be they teammates, fans or simple people within this state who were more proud of being West Virginians than they were football fans.
In truth, he admits, he never really felt he should sit out the game.
He recalls the crushing moments in the West Virginia locker room after losing the season’s final game to Oklahoma, taking any chance at the Big 12 championship away from the team, and what his thoughts were and none of them had anything to do with the NFL or not playing in his team’s bowl game.
“I knew (I was going to play),” he explained. “I didn’t think I was going to get that question right after the Oklahoma game. I wasn’t really ready for it.”
But he knew the obligation he had signed on for and it was bigger than just his own ambition.
“I wanted to finish out the season,” he said. “I feel a receiver isn’t a very ‘at risk’ position. You’re not in the trenches, or anything like that. It was a pretty easy decision for me. I want to do everything I can for this university to give it a win.”
He understood that it actually could help him with the NFL, but just as important with his teammates and coaches and fans.
“I looked at it as another opportunity to put good film out there, but also to end and leave with a win. It’s something that I think is very important to me,” he explained. “This university and this state have done a lot for me. So, I want to be able to go out there and play and try to do everything I can to leave this team and leave this university with a win.”
As for the others who saw it differently?
“It’s not something that I’m mad about them about. Everyone has a different path and that’s the best path for them, I guess,” he said. “I understand where they are coming from. That’s decision they made. You know, we’re all grown men here now. They are my great friends, so whatever decision they made I was all for it.”
Make no doubt that if Sills had played or not, he had etched his name into WVU football lore.
His first catch as a wide receiver was for a touchdown.
It was a harbinger of things to come.
In just two years as a wide receiver he caught 35 touchdowns, second only to the 41 Stedman Bailey caught in his career. Bailey played 39 games to 31 for Sills.
Rest assured, there are many more touchdowns in Sills’ future, perhaps as many off the field as on it.