Few people know Stanford quarterback commit Davis Mills like his head coach at Greater Atlanta Christian School, Tim Hardy, does.
During Mills’ high school career, he threw for 66 touchdowns and just ten interceptions. He rushed for 23 additional scores.
The numbers are there, the leadership is there, but Hardy says Mills an acquired taste.
Let him explain:
“He's a little bit of an acquired taste in that if you watch him for five minutes, you're going to like him, but if you watch him for five days, you're going to love him,” Hardy said.
“So a lot of times at these combines, these guys are throwing at 98 miles an hour. But when you watch the stuff that allows you to play winning football at that position in terms of ball placement, consistency, decision-making, poise, and you get to see (Mills) in those kind of settings, he really rose to the top to show who he was.”
Mills is when Swiss Army knife meets a surgeon. The five-star quarterback is versatile, pin-point and consistent.
“He can make so many different throws,” Hardy said. “He's got tremendous touch and feel for the ball. Every time he throws it, his arm is in the exact same spot so he's very, very consistent mechanically. He has a great feel physically.”
But what sets Mills apart, according to his coach, is between his ears.
“I think his greatest quality is mentally,” Hardy said. “He really has a quietness and a calmness about him as an athlete, just a poise and a control that allows him to throw the ball the same. That allows him to see what he needs to see and then make great decisions. I think it's that competitive poise that is really special”
Mills had been on Stanford fan’s radar for quite sometime, especially after giving his verbal commitment in March 2016. From there, Mills became a five-star recruit, climbed the quarterback rankings to become the top signal caller in the class, was a star at the Elite 11, earned U.S. Army All-American honors and led his high school team to a state championship appearance.
That offseason, scouts, analysts and fans saw quite a progression, which was no surprise to his high school coach.
“He has continued to be hungry and his development,” Hardy said. “He was more eager for coaching as a senior than he was as a sophomore.”
Hardy is excited to see what Mills will accomplish at Stanford and thinks it’s the perfect pairing for his quarterback. Whether it’s the coaching staff’s pedigree of developing players or the style of play, the Cardinal and Mills just “fit.”
“He has a very good fit for what they like to do at the quarterback position,” Hardy said. “He is a true pass-first kind of quarterback who is able to be taken through progressions.”
“He is also a really, really good athlete, and when you see the guys who have been really successful there like a (Andrew Luck) and like a Kevin Hogan, that have the athletic ability to make things happen for the occasional called run or just the ability to make things happen, and Davis is really really good at extending place.”
In the locker room, Hardy says Mills thrives at “relational leadership,” being able to bond with his teammates and get the best out of everyone around him while not having to say too much.
“He just connects with all the guys on the team. He's probably not going to be Mel Gibson with blue paint on his face in Braveheart, running through the banner kind of guy, but his connection to his teammates and his leadership really, really makes the guys around him better.”