MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — West Virginia has a new king of stops behind the line.
Dante Stills added to his decorated resume on Saturday when he busted up a screen pass to TCU’s Kendre Miller for a 1-yard loss. That was the fifth-year senior’s only recorded stat of the season, but it might have been his biggest, as he recorded career tackle-for-loss No. 48.5, the most in WVU history.
Both the media and WVU’s fans have had a close eye on the star defensive lineman from Fairmont Senior High since he began his career in 2018, so a lot of watchers in West Virginia knew where he was on his quest for history.
Stills, however, didn’t have a good sense until recently.
“I didn’t know how far I was until [the Milan Puskar Center] was redone, so I didn’t know what even the record was until they put it up there like two years ago,” he said. “Then I started chasing it, I realized that I have a chance.”
Stills made a big push to position himself for the record in 2021 when he had 15 stops behind the line of scrimmage, the sixth-best tally in a season in WVU history. That put him four TFLs behind Grant Wiley for the record and got him ready to pass some of the best defenders in WVU history.
“It means everything just knowing them guys were great players and put everything they had in this program. It’s just an honor,” Stills said. “I’m blessed to be able to do it here, at home, wearing West Virginia.”
Most importantly, Stills sits above two Mountaineer greats in particular: his father, Gary, and his brother Darius.
In fact, Dante is the king of the Stills household by a wide margin. At the start of the 2022 season, his 43.5 tackles-for-loss matched the combined total from his dad and brother. Five TFLs later, he runs the household in that column.
Dante makes sure not to gloat, however.
“I don’t like to brag, just because I don’t want to have people look at me like I’m cocky or anything like that,” he said. “But [my dad] called me, he congratulated me, I told him I’m going to try to pass him in sacks.”
Dante has already passed his brother in that category, and he has plenty of time to chase his dad. Darius compiled 11.5 sacks in four seasons with the Mountaineers, while Gary racked up 26.
Dante, at 21.5, has at least four more games to pick up 4.5 sacks to catch his dad.
“That’s a lot, so I’m going to try my best to get back there as much as I can and affect the quarterback,” Stills said.
If he really wants to shoot for the stars, he’d have to sack the quarterback 13 more times in that span to catch Canute Curtis’s all-time record set in 1996.
For the moment, though, Stills is focused on getting in the backfield and helping his team win games.
“The highest I feel like I could get this year, just being real, is probably like…57, 56, 55,” said Stills, who wears the No. 55 shirt for WVU, like his father. “If I could get 55, that would be pretty cool.”
The fifth-year defensive lineman is also in line to break another program record Saturday against Iowa State. As long as he plays one snap, he’ll stand alone as West Virginia’s career leader in games played with 56 appearances. Stills is currently tied with former WVU safety Sean Mahone, who played his final collegiate game last season, for the career appearances record.