Sills, who handled himself well when making his choice to continue his pursuit of a college career at quarterback, was nothing but classy and honest when deciding that he still wanted to play behind center. He thought about it, talked to teammates and the coaching staff, and left West Virginia on the best possible terms. While decisions to transfer are common, they are sometimes accompanied by a scorched earth policy, but that wasn't the case here. in face, it was the direct opposite, and it laid the groundwork for his eventual return to West Virginia.
"It took a lot of talks with my parents and friends, and even with myself," Sills said of the decision-making process. "For myself it was just something I needed to do for me. When I left, Coach [Dan]) Holgorsen and I had a talk, and I talked to the teammates about it and everything. They all wished me the best of luck. Coach Holgorsen and I ended on great terms. He would talk to me throughout my season last year, and some other guys like [Director of Player Personnel] Coach [Ryan] Dorchester. We really left on a good relationship. Just the decision to leave, at the end of the day it was for me to give my all at something I wanted to do. I wasn’t ready to give it up yet."
While Stills had those conversations, there wasn't any plan at the time of him coming back if things didn't work out in junior college. That Holgorsen, Dorchester and the rest of the Mountaineers staff kept those channels of communication open showed excellent foresight, however. And with West Virginia wide receiving corps hurting due to injuries this spring, Sills has become a leading member of the group.
"Going out there kind of opened my eyes that I was supposed to be a receiver, and I think that’s God was telling me to do," the mature Sills said. "I think he opened the door for me to come back here and this is where he wants me to be. I’m giving it my all now, and like I said earlier, I’m focusing on the technique and culture and everything of playing receiver. Nobody treated me differently coming back. They treated me the same as if I never left. I think I came back with pretty much the same mindset, if not better, to be able to compete and contribute to the team. Now obviously I am doing it with a clear mind at wide receiver."
Sills does have some adjustments to make. First, there's the full-time switch to receiver, and the attendant differences in techniques and areas of emphasis. There's also the change in coaches, and in the West Virginia offense, which has been hinted at but not fully explained or exposed yet. Much of that is still in testing mode, as coaches evaluate what players are good at and how those skills will come together to create an identity for the 2017 Mountaineer offense. The initial building blocks of those moves are rooted in technique improvement and skill development.
"Last time I was here I played very high, so I need to work on pad-level and just understanding how to manipulate defenders. Make them think you’re going one way and go another way. That’s really one of the major things with playing receiver is manipulating a defensive back and make him think you’re going another way when you go one way. That’s one thing that I’m starting to learn now. Using my hands to fight off defenders, reroute, and things like that. Coach [Tyron] Carrier has really done a great job of teaching me and the rest of the receivers that. Going through spring, already we’ve gotten five or six practices, but I feel like I’ve already gotten a lot better, just since he has been coaching me. Coach Carrier has been working with me ever since I got back. He’s done a great job of coaching me and the rest of the guys up. I’m really focusing and competing with the other guys rather than, being in the quarterback room and then going to play some wide receiver. Now I’m really in the room, studying film, learning technique, and all of that. That has really helped me a lot, where we are now.""
Coming from the quarterback position, Sills would be expected to have a better overall view of the relationship between passer and receiver. There's still the matter of building that between him from a passcatching perspective and from the view of the quarterbacks, but he thinks that process is well underway.
"They’ve been great. They’re all very hardworking quarterbacks," Sills said of Will Grier, Chris Chugunov and Cody Saunders. "Coach [Jake] Spavital has really been great with the transition of a little bit different offense with what we are doing and everything. He’s been great with working with them and working with us. We are all creating a very strong relationship together, which I think is very important for quarterbacks and wide receivers. I think we are really creating a good relationship. You can tell going into this spring we already have a lot of timing down with the quarterbacks. We are just going to keep going through spring like that and work on the timing, go out there and compete everyday going into the spring and fall camp."