David Sills: The next Great One in training

The locker room was tense and silent as each player’s mind raced about the upcoming game. In the middle of it all stood David Sills, the world’s greatest eighth-grade quarterback.

On a college campus, the excitement of a high school football game under Friday night lights is forgotten in the wake of Saturday’s collegiate games. For the students of Liberty Christian Academy (LCA) however, Friday football is something they relish almost every weekend.  The LCA football team plays at magnificent Williams Stadium, whose towering addition and lights illuminate Liberty Mountain.

This weekend, the once little-known Red Lion Christian Academy football team of Bear, Del. stepped out onto the field against the LCA Bulldogs.

A decade ago, the Red Lion football program did not exist. The program’s first few years were fraught with losing seasons, and single-win seasons were common. Now, Red Lion’s football team is quickly growing in prestige and national recognition because of the talent of one player.  Fans have something to finally get excited about.

His name is David Sills.

For most of the country, the name “David Sills” was ambiguous and meaningless. Earlier this year, Sills appeared on multiple national news stations, talk shows, and even has his own ESPN highlight reel and Wikipedia page. But for those with ties to Red Lion, the growth of this young man has been a long road.

Much of his success has been accredited to several years of training sessions with his personal coach, Steve Clarkson, a man who many experts consider the foremost quarterback coach in the country. Clarkson has coached some of the top college quarterbacks in the last decade—a list that includes Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Leinart, and Jimmy Clausen. Clarkson also directed USC’s new coach Lane Kiffin to the talent of quarterback Matt Barkley.

But after Clarkson’s training sessions with Sills over the past year, Clarkson found himself calling Kiffin about something special:

“I have got a kid now who is better than all of them and he is in Delaware. You have to take a look at him,” Clarkson said in an ESPN interview.

It was this phone call that would ultimately change the course of Sills’ life.

In February, 2010, the Sills family was put into contact with Kiffin, the then-new coach at USC. The details of the phone-call were private, but it was the result that drew national attention. After giving his verbal commitment, Sills became USC’s first recruit for the class of 2015.

This unprecedented move was certainly unexpected, but it was not the first sign of interest that Sills had received from Division I schools. As a result, Sills has managed to keep a cool head through this recent whirlwind of a year. Still, USC was always the best offer that Sills could have imagined for himself.

“USC has always been my dream school,” Sills said to ESPN. “If it was any other college I probably would not have said yes, but all it is really is a verbal commitment so I can get out of it if I wanted to.”

The comment was aimed largely at the enormous amount of people who have protested Division I schools looking at middle school-aged kids for recruiting. Many people see it as either parents living vicariously through their teenage sons, or as a scheme by the colleges to rope students into shallow commitments.

Yet even through all of the criticism, the family has stuck by Sills. For him, it is a dream come true, and they cannot imagine taking that away from him.

“If any other school had asked him to do this I would have told him to say no,” Sills’ father said in an interview with ESPN. “He decided if he was a senior he would pick USC, if he was a junior he would pick USC, if he was a sophomore he would pick USC, if he was a freshman he would pick USC. So why not just pick USC now? You think about a recruiting process taking two years and this recruiting process took three hours.

“I’m not really a money-driven person,” Sills’ father continued when asked about the price of his son’s years of training. “If I can help [my children] achieve their goals, then why not? This is part of (David’s) growing up experience. Hopefully I won’t have to pay for college someday.”

This all happened before Sills had even stepped on the field of a varsity football game as quarterback.

“This kid is on his way to being the greatest high school recruited quarterback ever,” Clarkson said in a Sports Illustrated interview. “He is really going to be something special.”

Oct. 29, the LCA Bulldogs squared off against Sills and the RLCA Lions for the first time in both schools’ histories, and lost 37-27.

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