Midway through West Virginia’s 38-36 win over Baylor on Saturday, the Mountaineers’ two best players asserted their dominance.
West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and wide receiver David Sills connected for a touchdown pass with just one second left in the first half. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Grier and Sills connected for another touchdown.
“I thought Will Grier and David Sills were sensational,” Baylor coach Matt Rhule said. “I take my hat off to them.”
It was the third touchdown of the day for the Grier-Sills connection. For many wide receivers, that would be a career day. It’s the third such performance of the season for Sills, who didn’t even play wide receiver full time until 10 months ago.
Grier leads the nation with 26 touchdown passes. Sills is best among wide receivers with 15 touchdown catches. Considering their incredible chemistry, it’s hard to believe these two didn’t know each other until Sills re-enrolled at West Virginia in January.
Building a relationship
Sills flew to Morgantown to begin the second half of his career in January 2017. He originally enrolled at West Virginia as a blue-chip quarterback. But after coaches asked him to switch to receiver, Sills traveled to El Camino College in California with hopes of resurrecting his quarterback dreams.
He threw for 1,636 yards and 15 touchdowns in his one season at El Camino. After that, he was all-in on the wide receiver position.
Grier arrived in 2016 soon after Sills left for the junior college. The two met when Sills returned to Morgantown. They soon bonded over a common interest – working their butts off.
Sills was eager to learn the nuances of playing receiver, considering he had never worked full time with a wide receivers coach. He pestered Grier to work out with him.
“David was begging me to throw in the offseason, doing anything he can to get better,” Grier told DieHards in a phone interview. “He got so much better so quickly through spring ball and over the summer and through camp.”
West Virginia hired Jake Spavital as offensive coordinator just days after Sills arrived on campus. Since then, the three have become especially close.
“They’re both in my office,” Spavital told DieHards. “They sit in my office and study football all day long. They’re getting extra workouts, extra treatment, extra therapy, everything. It’s pretty special because it means a lot to them.”
The exposure has paid off, on and off the field.
“We’re really, really close friends now,” Sills told DieHards. “We hang out outside of football time, play golf, things like that. I think that’s helped us on the field as well. Having a relationship with guys you’re throwing the ball to helps.”
Preparing like coaches
Grier and Sills both grew up with strong football presences in their households. Both of their fathers were high school coaches and they worked with trainers from a young age. Being exposed to football for so much of their lives has helped.
“My dad did a great job passing on what he learned from his career,” Grier said. “Being a coach’s son, they’re hard on you. When you say you want to be great, they do everything they can do to put you in that position.”
Sills worked with quarterback guru Steve Clarkson at a young age and committed to USC at just 13. David Sills IV helped establish programs in Delaware to help get his son exposure, and the young student showed tremendous ability to read defenses.
“It really gives you the natural feel of growing up, just figuring out what defenses are going to do,” Sills said. “It teaches you how to prepare for a game, what to do in the offseason and things like that.”
Meanwhile, Chad Grier built a private-school powerhouse at Davidson Day in North Carolina. He developed Will Grier into Parade Magazine’s national player of the year and Mr. Football USA.
“They know how to study for games, they know how to see it,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “The game’s just slow out there. They can tell you everything that’s going on.”
Hard work paying off
Grier and Sills have formed the most productive partnership in college football. Having two players with quarterback skills on the field doesn’t hurt.
“He has a quarterback mindset, so he has an idea of what I’m looking at,” Grier said. “It’s an advantage being a receiver because he can say, ‘Hey, I’m seeing this, maybe we can run this.’ It’s another kind of quarterback on the field who just happens to be a great athlete and a great receiver.”
Seven games into the season, West Virginia’s offense ranks No. 4 nationally in scoring (43.3 points per game) and No. 5 in total offense (539.4 yards per game). West Virginia’s star partnership has played a significant role.
Sills leads the nation in points scored, a mark usually held by kickers. He has scored 92 points, thanks to 15 touchdowns and a 2-point conversion. The next wide receiver on the list – SMU’s Courtland Sutton – has 60 points.
Grier is third among Power 5 quarterbacks in passing yards and fourth nationally in total offense. He is responsible for two-thirds of the Mountaineers’ offense. Sills has turned into his favorite red-zone target.
“I think that’s just me and Will having great chemistry,” Sills said. “All the receivers put in a great amount of work. We were all out there working hard trying to be the best we can be.”
For how productive they’ve been, Grier and Sills lack experience. Grier has just 13 career starts between West Virginia and Florida. Sills came off the bench for six games as a freshman in 2015, but has not been a full-time starter until this season.
Both players have a season of eligibility remaining. They should continue to get better, especially with a Big 12 championship within reach.
“I see all the work that goes into it and I enjoy seeing it translate to the field,” Spavital said. “It’s not a shocker to me that they’re having success because of all the work and time they put into it. That’s what I love about these kids, is they’re just walking in and trying to come in and get better every single day.”
The post Fast friendship helps transform Will Grier, David Sills into nation’s deadliest passing duo appeared first on Diehards.
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