If you look inside the closet of former West Virginia defensive lineman Darius Stills, it’s clear that he has a strong connection to the Baltimore Ravens. His affinity for the purple and black is easy to see thanks to his jerseys of Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis and his father, former Ravens linebacker Gary Stills.
Gary played for the Ravens from 2006-2007, when Darius was 8 and 9 years old, respectively. Gary racked up 41 tackles and forced two fumbles during that time, part of a 10-year NFL career. How many memories does Darius have from his father’s days in Baltimore?
“I’ve got a lot,” Darius said on Glenn Clark Radio Feb. 15. “[My brother and I] got to tour the facility and meet Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. It was a fun time.”
While spending some of his early years in Baltimore, Darius fell in love with football while watching the classic Ravens-Steelers rivalry. Stills started to idolize Ray Lewis and modeled his game after the legend during his youth football days — even wearing his eye black like Lewis did and having the Ravens great as his phone wallpaper.
With his father having played in the NFL alongside players like Lewis, expectations for Darius were high from a young age. But for Darius and his brother Dante, a rising senior defensive lineman for West Virginia, living up to their father’s legacy became motivation for them in their own careers.
“I’d say, yeah, [there was pressure]. But our dad played a different position than we did. He didn’t play D-line,” Stills said. “So I was like, ‘All right, we’ve got to live up to our dad’s legacy, but build our own at the same time.'”
Darius (6-foot-1 and 285 pounds) and Dante (6-foot-4 and 280 pounds) became key contributors on the defensive line for the Mountaineers. Darius and Dante earned first- and second-team All-Big 12 honors last season, respectively.
Darius compiled 85 tackles, 11.5 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception during his four years in Morgantown, W.V. Dante was not far behind his older brother, racking up 75 tackles, 12 sacks and three forced fumbles during his three years thus far with West Virginia.
The two helped lead the Mountaineers to a 6-4 record and the fourth-ranked defense in FBS last year. The season was capped off with a 24-21 victory against Army in the Liberty Bowl, with the Stills brothers combining for seven tackles in the game.
Darius cherished the time he had playing with his brother at the college level.
“It’s insane because growing up, talking about the moments [we’ve now lived through] and just being able to experience that, it’s very unique and I can’t really describe the feeling,” Darius said. “It’s just amazing.”
It is that family mentality that Darius Stills now carries with him going into the NFL. Stills is the draft’s No. 118 overall prospect and No. 8 interior defensive lineman, according to The Draft Network. Stills says his dad played a huge part in developing his game, and the opportunity to give back to his parents is a driving him as he transitions to the pros.
“Every day, that’s what keeps me going, that’s what motivates me,” Stills said. “Because I have the opportunity to change my family’s financial [future] and just be able to use what God gave me to do that. It doesn’t get any better.”
Stills is currently preparing for West Virginia’s pro day, which will take place March 18. When asked what it would be like to follow in his dad’s footsteps and put on the purple and black, he said that it would be special.
“That would be amazing,” Stills said, “but hopefully everything goes the way it is supposed to go.”
For more from Stills, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credits: Ben Queen and Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens