For David Sills V, the road to West Virginia University was anything but typical. And, as it turns out, his departure will be just as unique.
As he walked across the stage at the WVU Coliseum on December 15 to receive a finance degree, Sills realized that a new chapter had just started. But don’t think that what he learned at the John Chambers College of Business and Economics or the Mountaineer he has become will leave him anytime soon.
“My parents did a great job raising me,” said the Bear, Delaware, native, “and I’ve tried to instill in my life everything they’ve taught me. Even though my life has been anything but typical, they taught me how to be humble.”
The life of David Sills has been told by the national media more times than you can count. As an eighth grader, he was recruited by then-USC football coach Lane Kiffin. He attended high school at Eastern Christian Academy in Elkton, Maryland, where he played football with now-Philadelphia Eagles running back and former Mountaineer Wendell Smallwood. He came to WVU his freshman year in 2015 as a quarterback interested in civil engineering. He became a key receiver in the second half of his freshman season at West Virginia in 2015, with seven catches and two touchdowns in seven games — including the game-winning touchdown against Arizona State in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.
He departed WVU, telling Coach Dana Holgorsen that he wanted to pursue the quarterback position. Sills transferred to El Camino College near Los Angeles, where he passed for more than 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2016 and earned an associate’s degree at the junior college. In the meantime, a quarterback named Will Grier had transferred to WVU from the University of Florida, causing a hopeful stir in Morgantown. Only a few days away from the recruiting deadline, Holgorsen contacted Sills and wanted him to come back to WVU — this time as a receiver. Sills came back, communicating often with Grier before they would meet in Morgantown, and the two have been close ever since.
“I felt like I had unfinished business at WVU,” said Sills. “I wanted to come back, do well in a great conference like the Big 12 and get my degree.”
Now a celebrated, decorated receiver and college graduate, he will play in the Camping World Bowl for the Mountaineers on Dec. 28 against Syracuse, and then he’s off to California to train for the NFL. He has accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl the third week of January 2019, where he will be scrutinized by NFL scouts and coaches. He hopes to be invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Feb. 26-March 4, and to enter the league of his dreams through the NFL Draft April 25-27.
Which is where we come back to finance. This practical, grounded football phenom is also the product of parents who stressed that their son be able to handle his personal finances.
“My dad has always worked with me on how to handle money. My dad’s an entrepreneur and owns his own construction company. To see him successfully run his company was a good influence,” said Sills. “That interest and influence in finance is how I became interested in finance.”
That’s not the only linkage between finance and football, though.
“I have a really good friend who is CEO of a company called Hyperice. Watching his company — a tech company in the sports world — is something that really excites me,” he said. “Having that finance background would be beneficial to work in a unique business culture like that. And, of course, I’ve always had the dream of playing in the NFL. If I get there, I want to be able to manage my money well.”
His finance degree will also come in handy as he nears his life-long dream of playing in the National Football League.
“I have learned so much during my time here at the John Chambers College of Business and Economics,” Sills said. “Being a finance major has taught me how to manage my time. That’s one of the biggest things I will carry with me throughout my life. I think because the core classes can be so time-consuming, that’s really been beneficial. This business school has taught me a great number of things, including how to prioritize and be efficient.”
He thanks his family and his teammates along the way for keeping him grounded, and said that if football disappeared from the earth he would like to work in finance for a sports-related organization or company. “I wouldn’t mind looking into coaching, either. I have a genuine love for the game and I love being around it.”
What will he miss at WVU?
“I’m going to miss the WVU fan base and just everything about West Virginia. I’ll always remember that I was welcomed back with open arms,” Sills said. “I will represent this business school, this university and this state for the rest of my life.”
Contact: Patrick Gregg, WVU John Chambers College of Business and Economics, firstname.lastname@example.org or 304.293.5131