Texas visits West Virginia on Saturday, and ‘Horns head coach Tom Herman showered his opposing quarterback with the highest of high praise.
According to the Austin American-Statesman‘s Kirk Bohls, Herman said West Virginia quarterback Will Grier is the best quarterback in the Big 12. And he didn’t forget about Baker Mayfield, either.
(Update: We got our hands on Herman’s full quote and the context shows Herman wasn’t digging Mayfield at all. Full quote below.)
Yeah, he’s the fourth leading passer in the country. And he’s got some pretty talented guys around him. He’s got the Sills kid who is leading the country in touchdown catches. He’s got a couple other receivers that are very high up in some categories. So I think what he presents might be — well, no, there is a kid in Norman that’s pretty good too, and in Fort Worth.
But he’s along the lines of Mayfield and Hill in terms of he’s really, really accurate throwing the football. He’s a tremendous passer. But he can make you pay with his feet too. He’s as good as we’ve played, and we’ve played some really, really good ones.
For what it’s worth, Mayfield leads the Big 12 (and the FBS record books) in passing efficiency and yards per attempt, and ranks second in total passing. Grier is third, behind Mayfield and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, in efficiency, yards per attempt and total passing.
Mayfield torched the Longhorns for 302 yards and two touchdowns (with one pick) on 17-of-27 passing in a 29-24 win last month. Texas is playing without top corner Holton Hill, who was suspended for the year for a violation of team rules last week, and West Virginia boasts the nation’s top touchdown-maker in David Sills V (18 touchdowns on 55 receptions), so Grier may be in for a big night as well.
The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation has trimmed down the list of the nation’s top receivers to 10 semifinalists for this year’s Biletnikoff Award. The award doesn’t necessarily have to go to a wide receiver, but this year’s award will maintain that tradition with 10 semifinalists all playing the wide receiver position.
Among the semifinalists are the nation’s leading receiver, Colorado State’s Michael Gallup (1,298 yards), the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns, West Virginia’s David Sills V (18 touchdowns), and the nation’s leader in receptions per game, SMU’s Trey Quinn (9.6 receptions per game). The semifinalist list also includes key players on conference contenders like Deontay Burnett of USC and James Washington of Oklahoma State.
A Big 12 receiver has won the award each of the past two seasons, so that may be good news for one of the three semifinalists from the Big 12 this season. Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook won the award a year ago, preceded by Baylor’s Corey Coleman in 2015.A Big 12 player has won the award a total of six times since 2007, with Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree and Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon each winning the award twice.
2017 Biletnikoff Semifinalists
- Darren Andrews, UCLA
- A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
- Deontay Burnett, USC
- Keke Coutee, Texas Tech
- Michael Gallup, Colorado State
- Steve Ishmael, Syracuse
- Anthony Miller, Memphis
- Trey Quinn, SMU
- David Sills, West Virginia
- James Washington, Oklahoma State
One of the best under-the-radar storylines of the 2017 season continued Saturday evening in Little Manhattan.
Once a highly-touted quarterback prodigy — as a 13-year-old he was offered a scholarship to USC by Lane Kiffin — David Sills moved to wide receiver not long after signing with West Virginia as part of their 2015 recruiting class. In June of 2016, WVU announced that Sills was moving on to the junior college level “to pursue his dream of playing quarterback.”
Six months later, that dream ended as WVU announced that Sills had come back to the Mountaineers — and was coming back as a receiver. And come back he did as, after catching seven passes for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns in eight games as a true freshman in 2015, Sills has now caught 18 touchdowns in 10 games this season after recording two more in WVU’s narrow five-point win over Kansas State — one on an absolutely ridiculous catch, especially for a former quarterback.
The only other FBS player even remotely in Sills’ end-zone neighborhood is Memphis’ Anthony Miller, who has 11. With 10 each, UCLA’s Darren Andrews and Miami of Ohio’s James Gardner are the only other players at this level in double-digits.
With three games remaining, the 6-4, 203-pound Sills has an outside chance — a very outside chance — of tying the FBS single-season record of 27 touchdown catches set by Louisiana Tech’s Troy Edwards in 1998. He’s also seven scores away from tying the school record of 25 set by Stedman Bailey in 2012. Bailey is currently tied for second all-time with Marshall’s Randy Moss, who set the FBS record of 25 the year before it was broken by Edwards.
In seven games this season, though, Sills has scored two or more touchdowns in a single game. He’s caught three in thee contests.
As for the man feeding Sills the ball through the air, Will Grier (howdy Florida!) leads the nation with 34 touchdowns passes, pending what Missouri’s Drew Lock (31) does tonight against Kentucky. With the same three games remaining, Grier needs eight touchdowns to tie Geno Smith‘s school record of 42 set in 2012 and nine to break it.
No. 15 Iowa State found itself in a deep hole early and nearly climbed all the way out of it before ultimately falling 20-16 at West Virginia.
West Virginia was on its way to put an emphatic end to Iowa State’s miracle run after the Mountaineers jumped out to a 20-0 lead midway through the second quarter, thanks to a touchdown connection from Will Grier to David Sills, a 55-yard snatch-and-dash by Ka'Raun White and a pair of Evan Staley field goals.
But Iowa State wrapped a tourniquet around the bleeding and began clawing its way back. A 42-yard Garrett Owens field goal with 1:46 left before half got the Cyclones on the board. A 1-yard toss from Kyle Kempt (27-of-40 for 249 yards) to Allen Lazard on third-and-goal, completing a 10-play, 86-yard drive, pulled Iowa State within 10 early in the third quarter. An 18-yard Owens chip shot pulled Iowa State within one score late in the third, and the Cyclones appeared primed to tie the game by moving within the West Virginia 10 midway through the fourth quarter. But Iowa State could not break the end zone and instead settled for a third Owens field goal.
West Virginia moved in position to put the game away by moving to the ISU 33 with under five minutes left, but Grier’s (20-of-25 for 316 yards, two touchdowns) end zone heave to Sills was intercepted by Iowa State’s D’Andre Payne.
Iowa State moved to the WVU 37 with a chance to win the game on a touchdown, but Kempt’s third-and-7 pass to Lazard was dropped and his fourth down pass was broken up, handing the Mountaineers the ball inside Iowa State territory with 2:42 to play. The Cyclones immediately forced West Virginia into a third-and-17 — allowing thoughts of a punt or a long field goal to creep to mind — but Kennedy McKoy took a draw play around the left side for 17 yards and a game-clinching first down.
The loss denied Iowa State its first 7-2 start since 1976 and severely damaged the upstart Cyclones’ Big 12 championship hopes. Iowa State dropped to 4-2 in Big 12 play, one game behind Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU. Matt Campbell‘s crew holds a tiebreaker over the Sooners and Frogs and have yet to face Oklahoma State, but Iowa State now finds itself tied at 2-losses with West Virginia (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) and Texas — and both of those teams own the tiebreaker over Iowa State.
What David Sills is doing in Morgantown is one of the more intriguing and impressive subplots of the 2017 college football season.
Once a highly-touted quarterback prodigy– as a 13-year-old he was offered a scholarship to USC by Lane Kiffin — Sills moved to wide receiver not long after signing with West Virginia as part of their 2015 recruiting class. In June of 2016, WVU announced that Sills was moving on to the junior college level “to pursue his dream of playing quarterback.”
Six months later, that dream ended as WVU announced that Sills had come back to the Mountaineers — and was coming back as a receiver. In 2015, prior to his move away, Sills caught seven passes for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns in eight games as a true freshman; this season, Sills has taken his receiving game to a whole other level. Or levels rarely seen in college football.
Through the first seven games of the 2017 season, the junior Sills has caught 15 touchdown passes, including three in a Week 8 win over Baylor that was almost a loss as WVU nearly coughed up a 25-point fourth-quarter lead. To put Sills’ individual production into perspective, no other player entered this weekend with double-digit receiving touchdowns, with Memphis’ Lamar Miller the closest with nine (he had none in a Thursday night win over Houston).
Not only is he running away from his fellow receivers this season, Sills is also chasing some significant history. With five games left in the regular season, plus a bowl game — and maybe a Big 12 championship game as well — Sills is just 12 touchdowns away from tying the FBS single-season record of 27 touchdown catches set by Louisiana Tech’s Troy Edwards in 1998.
Sills is also a mere 10 scores away from tying the school record of 25 set by Stedman Bailey in 2012. Bailey is currently tied for second all-time with Marshall’s Randy Moss, who set the FBS record of 25 the year before it was broken by Edwards.
And, since (again) we’re here, former Florida and current WVU quarterback Will Grier has thrown 26 touchdown passes in seven games this season. The Gators have thrown 26 touchdown passes in their last 23 games, dating back to November of 2015.
Use that little nugget at your own whim.