The Fight in the Dog

Like hundreds of other talented and hard working high school football seniors, Jahmere Irvin-Sills signed his national letter of intent on national signing day. While there are thousands of great stories to tell, perhaps the path that Irvin-Sills was forced to tread was one of the most difficult. Just over a year ago, Irvin-Sills was essentially alone in the world.

Jahmere Irvin-Sills was known as Jahmere Irvin most of his life.

A tragic turn of events led the talented cornerback to a new family as well as a new name.

Irvin-Sills' mother was murdered and to make matters worse his younger brother died in a tragic house fire.

The one constant in Jahmere's life, his grandfather, died later of a heart attack.

Life can often by cruel, but in this case the adversity had reached absurd levels.

Without many places to turn, the rising prospect wound up at Tri-State Christian Academy where his tragic tale made him a campus favorite.

Just over two years ago the school's founder, David Sills IV, and his family took Jahmere in and made him one of their own.

Before he suited up for the first game of his senior season, the Wilmington, Deleware native was adopted by the Sills' family and for the first time in a long time, things were good.

"One of the best things about Jahmere is that he has some real mental toughness," said Tri-State head football coach Dwayne Thomas. "He's overcome a lot and he has a real toughness to him.

"He knows how to handle adversity."

Irvin-Sills mental mettle has been refined in the fire of adversity.

Learning new coverage schemes is child's play for a young man who could have easily felt sorry for himself and taken to the streets like many others faced with similar circumstances.

"He has worked really hard to become who he is," said Coach Thomas. "He has a great work ethic and he's always trying to get better.

"He's a great kid that doesn't cause any trouble.

"He has worked exceptionally hard to get his academics in order and that is not something that comes real natural to him.

"He has had to work to make himself a good student and he's handled things well."

Irvin-Sills made an early commitment to Auburn, but once the staff there was replaced, the three star talent elected to re-open his recruitment.

"You know he really felt at home with Coach (Gene) Chizik and Brian Van Gorder and that whole staff there," said Thomas. "He's not one that likes a lot of change, so once they made the coaching change, he just had a different feeling about Auburn."

Several schools made a late run at Irvin-Sills, but in the end he only elected to take one official visit.

"Once Mississippi State got involved, he was pretty excited," said Thomas. "He always wanted to play in the SEC and Mississippi State was giving him the chance to do that.

"He took the visit down there and when he came back, his mind was pretty much made up.

"Jahmere is more of a small town type of guy, so he really felt comfortable down there.

"He had a lot of the same feelings about Mississippi State that he had about Auburn, so this just worked for him."

Coach Thomas reports that the football culture in Starkville was one that seemed familiar to Irvin-Sills.

"We really believe in strength and conditioning around here and Mississippi State really makes a commitment to strength and conditioning, so that was a big thing for Jahmere," said Thomas. "He liked their program and he liked their plans for him.

"The coaches down there made him feel welcome and they were real engaging and he felt wanted."

Coach Thomas believes that the Bulldogs are getting a great player in Irvin-Sills.

"Jahmere is a guy who loves to compete, so the level of competition down there is going to challenge him, but I know he's up for it," said Thomas. "He's always wanted to play in the SEC and I know he's going to go down there and work hard to contribute.

"One thing I know for sure is that he has some fight in him."

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