Redemption: Failed QB Prodigy David Sills Headed To NFL, Just Not Under Center

Andrew McLean

Once a quarterback prodigy offered a full-ride scholarship to University of Southern California at the age of 13, David Stills is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Now 21, Sills’ football career is blossoming, though he knows he will never line up under center again.

Sills’ name became known amongst NCAA football fans when former USC head coach Lane Kiffin offered him a scholarship before he took a snap in high school. Kiffin was impressed by the 6’0, 140 lb 8th grader after watching a highlight film.

The young quarterback’s life was turned into a media circus. Many were surprised a 13-year-old had the talent to catch the eye of one of the most prestigious football programs in the NCAA.

“I never asked for it,” said Sills via BleacherReport.

The would-be football savant never set foot on the campus of USC as a Trojan. Kiffin was fired after just three seasons in Southern California. His successor, Steve Sarkisian, who is now the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, told Sills that his skills set did not fit the team’s needs.

That should have been a minor setback. After all, we’d assume this kid had offers pouring out of his mailbox on a daily basis.

The quarterback from Wilmington, Delaware, eventually starred at Eastern Christian Academy in Maryland. In the first game of his senior season, a 2-point conversion went awry.

Just like that, Sills’ high school career was over. Without an offer from USC, and unable to show off his skill set to Division 1 programs in his senior season, Sills was left without many options.

West Virgina head coach David Holgorson saw enough in Sills to offer him a scholarship. Though Holgorson saw defects in Sills’ throwing motion, he liked the quarterback’s demeanor, which led Sills to Morgantown, West Virginia. Holgorson planned to redshirt Sills to fix his mechanics and get him acclimated to the college game.

During the 2015 season, WVU prepared for an upcoming game against Liberty. At the time, Liberty had a big receiver to be reckoned with. Holgorsen asked the 6’4 200lbs Sills to the line up at wide receiver on the scout team, to prep WVU’s secondary to face someone of that stature.

It didn’t take long for Holgorsen to realize that no one could cover him. This began to raise eyebrows on the WVU coaching staff.

Due to necessity, Holgorsen told Sills the team needed him, not at quarterback but at wide receiver. The reluctant, once highly touted quarterback, agreed to a temporary position change, though he felt his future would be behind center.

In Sills’ first game against Baylor, he recorded two catches, including a 35-yard touchdown catch. His success at wide receiver further distanced him from living his dream as a starting quarterback.

In the spring of 2016, Sills’ love for the quarterback position led him to leave Morgantown. His mind was set on finding a home that would give him a chance to be the signal caller.

Sills found that home in Torrance, California, at El Camino College. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because El Camino is not a Division I school, nor is it Division II. The kid who got famous when he was 13 found himself competing for a starting quarterback position at a community college.

At this point, it looked like USC dodged a bullet, and that Kiffin should not be in charge of any school’s scouting department.

Sills eventually won the starting job at El Camino College. In his sophomore season, the quarterback threw 15 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, accumulating only 1,636 passing yards while completing 53.4% of his passes.

Those lukewarm stats left Sills without a scholarship offer to play quarterback. He was preparing to walk-on somewhere; anywhere, when he received a call from an old friend, Coach Holgorsen. The coach offered Sills a spot on the team, which he accepted.

Back at WVU, Sills dream of playing quarterback was over. However, his career as an elite wide receiver was about to begin.

“If you told me in seventh grade that I was going to be playing wide receiver at West Virginia, I would’ve never believed you. I’m not going to lie, it hurt.”

David Sills via BleacherReport

It hurt, but that pain would prove to be temporary. Sills’ journey to El Camino college released him from the notion that quarterback was the only position for him. In his second tenure at WVU, Sills just wanted to play ball, and that he did.

Now fully committed playing wide receiver, Sills is blossoming into an NFL prospect. The former quarterback is an ESPN Mid Season All-American, hauling in 39 receptions for 609 yards, and leads the nation with 12 touchdown catches.

Sills’ future is brighter than ever, proving sometimes it is better to receive than give, or in this case, throw.

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