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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Devon Still's Hard Work About To Pay Off

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Kevin Noonan
Kevin Noonan
Kevin Noonan has covered and commented on the Delaware sports scene for more than 30 years, everything from amateur recreation leagues and high schools to local colleges and the Philadelphia professional teams. He’s been voted Delaware Sportswriter of the Year multiple times and currently covers the Philadelphia Eagles for CBSSports.com and teaches creative writing courses at Wilmington University.

The awards keep piling up for Devon Still. Pretty soon, the dollars will start piling up, too.

Still was an All-State player at Howard High and now he’s an All-American player at Penn State. The defensive tackle has been named to a bunch of All-American teams and this week he got the biggie – The Associated Press named him as a first-team All-American.

In a few months, Still will go from first-team All-American to first-round NFL draft pick. Still could even be a Top 10 pick, depending on what mock draft you read. One thing is for sure – the kid from Wilmington is going to become a rich young man.

It’s way too early to talk about the 2012 NFL draft, of course, except that it never seems to be too early to talk about the draft. Goggle “mock draft, 2012’’ and you’ll get hundreds of hits. Some are legitimate and some aren’t, but it seems like everybody has one. And all of them – at least the dozen or so that I looked up – have Still going in the first round. The range is wide – one mock draft has him going as the sixth overall pick to the Carolina Panthers and another has him going as the 31st overall pick to the New England Patriots.

But you get the idea. Still has had a tremendous career at Penn State, even though he didn’t go there as the most highly-touted prospect in America. After all, he’s from Delaware, and who from Delaware not named Delle Donne has ever been one of the top prospects in the country in any sport?

Anyhow, none of that mattered once Still landed in Happy Valley and started to compete against all of those high school All-Americans. He started out as a player who contributed and became a player who started and then a player who starred and now he’s got a stocked trophy case, with more to come.

The only question now is how high he’ll be drafted. A lot can happen between now and April and a lot of players will either rise or fall in the rankings. But as of right now, Still appears likely to go around No. 20.

Still, that would put Still in elite company. Only four Delaware high school products have ever been drafted in the top 20 (Texas and Florida have that many in a single year). The leader of the pack, of course, is the greatest football player this state has ever produced, Hall-of-Famer Randy White. The McKean High and Maryland star was drafted second overall by the Dallas Cowboys in 1975.

The only other Delaware prep star drafted in the Top 10 was Salesianum’s Joe Campbell, who also went to Maryland; he was selected seventh overall by the New Orleans Saints in 1977. The other two in the Top 20 were both taken at No. 19 overall – offensive lineman Luke Petitgout of Sussex Central and Notre Dame, taken by the New York Giants in 1999, and Jeff Otah of William Penn and Pitt, taken by the Carolina Panthers in 2008.

Of course, there’s a lot more than pride involved when it comes to draft position. There are millions of dollars at stake, too. A couple of examples, using players who play the same position as Still: In last year’s draft, defensive tackle Nick Fairley was picked 13th overall by Detroit and eventually signed a four-year contract worth $10 million. Defensive lineman Adrian Campbell was picked 20th overall by Tampa Bay and eventually signed a four-year deal worth $8 million. That’s a big difference.

On the other hand, what’s a couple of million dollars to a millionaire? They’re both making more than either you or me and Devon Still will be set for life no matter where he goes.

So, all those hours in the weight room, all those conditioning drills and grueling practices and endless film studies have paid off for Devon Still. Now it’s just a matter of how much.

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