WVU’s Stills: ‘I’m Tired Of People Believing I Can’t Do What I Can’
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Darius Stills lives his football life in a bit of a shadow, and that’s unfair. First, he’s from a small state without the huge football heritage and prospect numbers of Texas, Florida, or the deep south, so his recruitment was delayed, with the previous coaching staff nearly missing the boat on his services. Second, his younger brother Dante, rated much higher by some, grabs up the majority of family attention, even though Darius is quite productive in his own right.
So, it’s fully justified for Darius to push back on that narrative a bit. Not that he downplays his brother’s accomplishments, or those of his teammates on the defensive front, but he wants everyone to know he can play too.
“Growing up with a younger brother with more attention, it was kind of irritating, but at the same time, I would rather it be me than Dante,” the Fairmont, West Virginia native said openly. “As the older brother, I feel like the pressure should be on my shoulders more than anyone in my family. But instead of being sad about it, I’ve tried to put a chip on my shoulder and prove everyone wrong. I’m kind of tired of people believing I can’t do what other people can because of where I’m from. I am a big part of how this team goes this year, and the coaches have told me that too.”
Praise for Stills’ play started with the previous coaching staff, which was unable to keep him off the field during his true freshman season. In 2017, he played in a backup role, then added more in 2018, totaling 12 tackles, including eight solo stops and a sack. He served notice of his improvement in the opener against Tennessee, when he recorded 2.5 tackles for loss.
He’s continued to impress this year, with head coach Neal Brown noting his performance during weekend scrimmages.
“He was really disruptive. I thought he won the battle against (center) Chase Behrndt decisively,” WVU’s first year coach revealed.
Without question, Darius can be an impact player. He just hasn’t gotten the attention he deserves yet. Notice for Darius’ performance is also limited due to the position he plays. Nose tackles, like interior offensive linemen, usually aren’t the focal point for many fans, thus good things they do, short of big hits or sacks, often go unnoticed.
The important thing, though, is that Darius continues to play well, even if the notoriety doesn’t follow. He, like every other lineman on the defensive front, is fired up about the changes to the scheme, as well as with new lessons they are learning from line coach Jordan Lesley.
“Coach Lesley emphasizes a lot on hands and ball get-off, and he’s turning us loose this year. He has us moving around every play, and he lets us show our athletic ability,” Stills said, echoing comments from several of his linemates. “With my skill set and our defensive line’s skill set, turning us loose just makes everything better. It also gives the DBs some relaxation if they don’t have to run as much or run as long. It’s a team thing.”
Stills is still conscious, however, of the balance needed between total freelancing and executing assignments.
“If you don’t do your assignment you are messing the other ten guys on the field over,” he said, while also underlining their importance of being reliable for teammates. “So you have to play hard, but also do your assignment. The plays will come to you eventually.”
While Stills is enjoying the new ways in which the line is being employed, he doesn’t want to give away any secrets. That extends to some of the individual pass rushing moves and techniques that Lesley is teaching, which Stills believes are enhancing his game.
“For the media’s sake, I’m not going to say,” Stills said with a laugh when asked to detail one of the lessons of the new staff. “The whole D-Line has learned a lot of new moves, and we’re improving every day.”