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.
Sadly, there’s yet another deadly shooting involving a college football player on which to report.
According to multiple media outlets in the Sacramento area, Sierra College defensive back Chancelor “Chance” Fields-Colbert was shot and killed very early Sunday morning following an incident during what was described as a college sendoff party in Fair Oaks. Fields-Colbert was shot once inside the residence in which the party was being held and managed to get out of the house before collapsing in an intersection a short distance away.
The sophomore from Fairbanks, Alaska, was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“It’s disbelief and shock,” the junior college’s head coach, Benjamin Noonan, told ABC’s Sacramento affiliate. “It’s been a nightmare these last 48 hours and the kids are, you know, pulling it together and just want to be around each other.”
As a freshman this past season, Fields-Colbert played in five games for the Wolverines.
With eight semifinalists from a year ago gone, the Outland Trophy’s 2019 preseason watch list takes on a decidedly fresh look this go ’round.
Headlining the 83-player group of the nation’s top interior linemen is Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton, who is the only Football Writers Association of American All-American from a season ago on this year’s watch list. Throckmorton is one of 12 players from the Pac-12 listed, which is tied for third among all conferences with the Big 12; with 13 apiece, the Big Ten and SEC lead all leagues.
The ACC’s 10 is the fewest among Power Five conferences, while Group of Five leagues are paced by the AAC’s six. All 10 FBS conferences are represented, including the Mountain West (four), Conference USA (three), MAC (three) and Sun Belt (three). Independents account for four as well.
Throckmorton is one of four linemen from Oregon, tied with Michigan for the most of any single school. Georgia has three, while another 15 schools have two each.
A total of 32 offensive tackles are on the watch list, the most for any single position. That group is followed by 19 defensive tackles, 18 offensive guards and 14 centers.
Less than two weeks before training camp kicks off, Rod Carey has (again) finalized his first Temple coaching staff.
Earlier this month, it was reported that longtime Temple assistant and the program’s current special teams coordinator Ed Foley would be leaving the school and reuniting with Matt Rhule at Baylor. Monday, the Owls confirmed that Carey has promoted Tyler Yelk to outside linebackers coach. Yelk was a part of Carey’s Northern Illinois football staff this past season.
Additionally, it was announced by the football program that Brett Diersen has been hired as associate special teams coordinator. Diersen spent the 2018 season as the defensive line coach at SMU.
This will mark the third time Diersen and Carey have worked together, first at Wisconsin-Stout in 2000 and then again at Northern Illinois from 2013-17.
“Tyler is an excellent young coach and we promoted him to add balance to the coaching staff,” said Carey in a statement, making reference to the fact that there are now six full-time coaches with an offensive background and five on defense. “We are very fortunate to get a coach of Brett’s caliber in the role of special teams coordinator. I’ve known him for 20 years and am excited that he and his family can join us at Temple.”
Of all the watch lists released thus far this month, this one’s the biggest — literally.
Via the Football Writers Association of America, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Tuesday released its preseason list of players to watch, with a whopping 97 individuals making the award’s initial cut. All 10 FBS conferences are represented, as are 65 individual schools.
One first-team FWAA All-American (LSU safety Grant Delpit) made the initial watch list for the award given annually to the best defensive player in college football, while a trio of second-teamers from a year ago (Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall, Michigan State defensive end Kenny Willekes, Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo) made the cut as well.
Conference-wise, the SEC has the most with 18, followed the other four Power Five leagues in the Big Ten (15), ACC (12), Pac-12 (12) and Big 12 (11). The AAC led all Group of Five conferences with six, followed by Conference USA (four), Mountain West (four), MAC (three) and Sun Belt (two). Football independents accounted for five of the watch listers.
With four, Alabama led all individual schools. Iowa State, LSU, Notre Dame and Penn State placed three each, with another 16 schools placing two apiece on the list.
As for the positional breakdown, there are 36 linebackers, 28 backs, 21 ends and seven tackles.