Darius Stills ready to show it’s also his time to shine on defensive line

West Virginia junior defensive tackle Darius Stills, long overshadowed by the exploits of his father Gary and brother Dante, is coming into his own this spring.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Darius Stills has always had a harder time getting recognized than your typical 6-foot-1, 290-pound human.

He’s always been the son of Gary Stills, a former all-conference West Virginia linebacker who went on to a nine-year NFL career. He’s also been the brother of Dante Stills, who was always more highly coveted as a high school recruit. Even though Dante was a year younger, the vast majority of college coaches were scouting games at Fairmont Senior to watch him rather than Darius.

Even after his first media session since arriving at West Virginia, Darius had to correct one media outlet for mistakenly tweeting about Thursday’s interview with Dante when it was, in fact, Darius.

That part he has gotten used to, at least.

“Most people, when they meet me and Dante, they usually think we’re twins,” Darius said.

Fortunately for Darius, defensive line coach Jordan Lesley can easily tell the two apart.

“He’s got that down pat,” Darius said. “I’m kind of shocked he doesn’t [confuse us].”

It’s a good thing that’s the case. So far this spring, Darius has been the one turning heads. The elder Stills brother has been running as the nose tackle on the No. 1 defense while Dante is in a battle with Reese Donahue to become a starting end.

“Darius Stills, so far, has been one of the most impressive [linemen],” Lesley said last week.

Dante made the bigger impression last season, getting named a Freshman all-American by The Athletic and ESPN.com.

Darius opened his season with a bang thanks to 2.5 tackles for loss against Tennessee, but only got one more the rest of the year. However, he ended on a strong note against Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl. Stills’ chase-down sack of Orange quarterback Eric Dungey — he surprisingly managed to beat linebacker David Long to their prey — was one of the most athletic moments of the game.

“I like to prove people wrong. They don’t expect a 300-pound nose guard to do that,” Darius said. “So I have to prove to them nose guards are athletic too.”

This chip has existed on Darius’ shoulder for quite some time now, fueled by those who ignored him while fawning over Dante’s strength and athleticism.

“The reason I’m here is off of people who didn’t believe I could be here,” Darius said. “And I’m glad for that. I’d rather be slept on than praised by everybody. At the time, I was upset a lot. I would get these ‘no’s’ from other schools. But that motivated me a lot.”

Naturally, Dante also serves as a constant source of inspiration.

“We push each other to limits I didn’t even think I could go,” Darius said. “Competing with him in the wintertime, it makes you realize how far you can push yourself when you’re past being tired. On the field, I’ll get on him about stuff and he’ll get on me about stuff. It’s kind of a mutual thing.”

Darius hopes there will be more opportunities for both brothers to be on the field at the same time in the upcoming season.

“Whenever me and Dante are on the field,” he said, “something magic is going to happen.”

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