When Dante Stills announced he was returning for his senior season at WVU, the text on the graphic he posted explained it all: job’s not done.
Stills did make one admission on Tuesday, however: that post wasn’t the original one he planned to release at the end of the 2020 season.
“My main goal going into my junior year was pretty much I wanted to leave — I wanted to be a three year and out guy, that dude that was able to be a boss and go three and out, but throughout the season, I wasn’t performing at the level I thought,” Stills said. “People thought I did good, but my stats weren’t showing it and that’s a big deal.”
In 2018, Stills earned freshman All-America honors after totaling 13 solo stops, 6.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks. As a sophomore, he tied for the team lead in sacks (7) and was second on the team in TFLs (11.5).
In 10 games last season, Stills posted 35 total tackles, including 15 solo, a team-high 10.5 TFLs, and two sacks.
“Stats show what you are doing throughout the year and I felt I didn’t do as much as I needed to be at that level that Darius (Stills) is going to next year. So, I thought it was best for me to stay another year and work to get to that level I need to be at next year,” he said of his decision.
Preparing for the NFL Draft is the level at which Stills hopes to be in spring 2022, and much like everything else in his football career, he is getting guidance from his older brother Darius who is currently going through that process.
“What I’ve noticed through this whole thing is just patience. It’s about control what you can control because after pro day, you have no control over when you are going to get picked or what team,” Stills said. “Every day he is talking to people and I listen in sometimes. I’m definitely hoping I am in his position one day.”
But before he can be in that position, Dante has to conquer something he rarely faced during his football career — playing without his brother by his side.
“It’s 100% going to be different but it’s one of those things you can’t control. He’s older than me so I just can’t say hey, stay back another year because that’s just selfish. I know everything he is going through and he is very excited about it, and for me, I just have to play my game,” Stills said. “I can’t think of it like he’s not here because if I do think of it like that, it’s going to go completely sideways. So, I just have to remain focused and be a leader for my guys right now.”
While Darius won’t physically be lining up next to him this season, it was his leadership over the years that is helping Dante find that same thing in himself. Darius was always chirping in Dante’s ear, motivating his younger brother on and off the field. Now, it’s up to Dante to not only push himself but to do that same thing for the guys behind him.
“That helps me be a leader myself because you have to lead yourself before you lead others. I have to make sure I’m doing the right things, doing techniques right, and making sure the guys behind me are able to copy that and perform,” he said.
As Stills said, the job’s not done. Now, it’s up to him to carry on the Stills legacy in his final season in Gold and Blue.