MORGANTOWN — David Sills walked into the WVU Puskar Center press conference abreast of quarterback Will Grier before the two split.
As is usually the case, most reporters swarmed to Grier.
“That’s why I came in with him,” Sills said with a sly smile.
Indeed, Grier is the poster boy, the proclaimed Heisman Trophy candidate, for the 2018 Mountaineer football team.
Yet it was Sills, not Grier, who earned 2017 first-team All-America honors. It was Sills, not Grier, who earned All-Big 12 first-team status last season. And it was Sills, not Grier, who finished No. 1 nationally in a major statistic with 18 touchdown catches.
That, however, seems to suit Sills just fine. After all, he received a serious blast of attention last season because of his seventh-grade-USC-commitment-as-a-quarterback-turned-terrific-receiver story.
Now, it seems, he’s fine-tuning, positioning himself for a nice slot in the 2019 NFL draft — as well as striving to bring WVU a Big 12 championship.
“That’s the vision,” he said of the latter goal. “I think we’re on the right track.”
Ditto Sills’ game, according to receivers coach Tyron Carrier.
“He’s just completely focused,” Carrier said. “He still has things he needs to work on. But when I tell you he works on it, he literally works on it.
“One of the best qualities he has is a work ethic that’s through the roof. He’s more focused, which makes him different. Every time he gets a chance, he tries to impose his will — especially physically as far as blocking. He’s completely bought into that.”
You can imagine NFL scouts smiling at that.
“I’ve been trying to improve every part of my game,” Sills said. “Obviously, having another year with Will and building chemistry and timing, that’s been better since we decided to come back.
“I’ve been working on speed. I’ve been working on strength. I’ve been working on the mental part of the game. Getting in and out of breaks. Pretty much everything.”
Last season, Sills caught 60 passes for 980 yards and the amazing 18 touchdowns. Almost one in every three of his receptions went for a score.
A key this season, he said, is keeping his legs fresh for the entire campaign.
“For sure,” Sills said. “We worked all offseason on building that stamina to sustain our legs throughout the season. I think we’ve done a good job of that. It’s tough to tell right now if I’ll have the same burst at the end of the season I’ll have at the beginning, but we’ve done everything we can to train for it.”
Note he used the word “we” in regard to training. And when you ask Sills about those around him, he grins.
“Offensively, I think we’re pretty good in the personnel we have at receiver,” Sills said. “At running back, all four of them are in a really good spot and could all have big years. Defensively, it looks like every one of them is going to have a good year.”
He was asked specifically about the Mountaineer secondary.
“You have to be confident at positions like those and it just seems they are playing more confident, with more energy,” Sills said. “I can just tell they’re playing with more confidence, which is making them play better.”
Oh yeah. And that Grier guy?
“He gets better every day,” Sills beamed. “He attacks the day like he wants to get better every day. He’s trying to get better. He’s pushing us to get better. We push him back to get better.
“I think we do a good job of talking things out and figuring out what drives us. I think he’s going to have a really special year — like he had last year.”
Side by side with Sills.
Sunday’s Fan Day, scheduled for 12:30 p.m., has been postponed and will be rescheduled if a later date becomes available due to five cases within the football program of hand, foot and mouth disease. Hand, foot and mouth disease, is common in young children but can make its way to adults. It’s a mild but highly contagious viral infection that causes sores in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet.
The virus usually goes away on its own in less than a week, but there is no specific treatment, just steps to ease the symptoms. WVU’s medical staff is monitoring the situation and taking steps to control the spread of the virus.