MORGANTOWN — To Mountaineer Nation, there is something especially satisfying when a family legacy becomes established within the WVU football program For former linebacker Gary Stills, his blue and gold defensive heritage doubled again this fall, as freshman Dante joined his sophomore brother Darius as proud Mountaineers.
However, both young Stills have quite a ways to go to match the excellence and tenacity produced by their dad, the anchor of the WVU defense from 1996-‘98. A powerful, explosive tackler, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Trenton, N.J., native earned the team’s Gridiron Gladiator award in both his junior and senior years. And, in the spectacular season-opener in 1997 against in-state instant rival Marshall, he turned in one of the greatest single-game performances in school history.
Facing future NFL quarterback Chad Pennington and future NFL Hall of Famer Randy Moss, Stills roared from sideline to sideline, registering 10 solo tackles, 11 total, including a then-school record four sacks, while also breaking up three passes to help lead WVU to a satisfying 42-31 win. The pass rushing specialist finished his stellar Mountaineer career with 26 sacks, still No. 2 all-time behind Canute Curtis’s 35.
Following graduation, Stills (who captained the team as a senior) was selected by Kansas City in the third round of the NFL draft. He played for the Chiefs for seven seasons, especially as a demon on special teams, before signing with the Baltimore Ravens for two seasons in 2006-‘07 and finished up with the St. Louis Rams in 2008.
Both Stills boys excelled at Fairmont Senior High, and have far surpassed their dad in height and weight, but Mountaineer fans — and a proud Mountaineer papa — can only hope that the Stills name might be engraved a few more times on the Gridiron Gladiator plaque hanging on the wall at the WVU football complex.