On a team that features the workout warrior J.J. Watt, with a strength and conditioning coach named Brian Cushing, and a quarterback who spends more time at the team facility than the NFL logo in Deshaun Watson, work ethic is a real deal in H-Town football.
So it stands to reason if you bring in another marquee player, you want a guy who is all about nose-to-the-grindstone hard work.
Enter Kenny Stills.
Having to outwork his peers is no new thing to Stills, who was taken in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. From his days at La Costa Canyon High School just north of San Diego California, Stills has gotten after it. He played football, basketball, and ran track. By the end of his high school career, Stills held the San Diego area school record with 3,041 receiving yards.
Legendary NCAA coach Bob Stoops recruited Stills to play for the Oklahoma Sooners and his vision paid off nicely, as Stills set freshman records with 61 receptions, 786 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. By the end of his three years in Oklahoma, Stills amassed 204 catches for 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Now that Stills is in Houston, he’s loving the opportunity to play with another former collegiate great, NCAA Champion and National Championship Game Offensive MVP, Deshaun Watson. Watson’s pumped about playing with Stills as well.
Kenny’s a guy that works hard. He’s in here early, he’s here late, takes care of his body, played a lot of football, played a lot of football with different quarterbacks, different teams, so he’s seen a lot. He’s a guy that – he comes in and helps all the young receivers, helps some of the older receivers, and helps myself. He’s a great addition. He’s a professional and he’s going to do exactly what we need him to do and he’s going to play his role right and make plays for us.
With only three games under his belt as a Houston Texans, Stills has 9 catches, 64 yards and a touchdown. Not only does Watson think a lot of Stills, the feeling is mutual.
[Deshaun’s] a great quarterback. It makes it really easy for guys to come in and make plays, I think. I don’t think it’s anything I’m doing, it’s just a matter of that he’s a really good kid, he knows what he’s doing, he knows how to throw the ball, he’s had a lot of success, and I just do whatever he asks me to do.
Moreover, Stills has been a great veteran voice on a young Texans’ offense.
Will Fuller V on the WR group, learning from Kenny Stills and more. pic.twitter.com/PUitZWlM2Y— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) September 20, 2019
He’s also been a huge asset in the blocking game.
More Kenny Stills blocking content pic.twitter.com/AK0aqKXU0y— Aaron Reiss (@aaronjreiss) September 23, 2019
Newly minted offensive coordinator Tim Kelly is loving every minute of it.
Tim Kelly (after Week One):
[Kenny] came in and I think it’s a testament really to [receivers coach] (John) Perry, he came in and Kenny worked his butt off here and spent extra time with Johnny to make sure he understood the game plan and what we needed him to do on Monday night, and he did a good job going out there and executing. I think just continuing to grow in the knowledge of the offense. So, we’re continuing to grow in that facet.
Looking at him from his film at his prior stops, you saw a guy that could run. A guy who had explosive playing potential and a guy who made plays. I’m glad he’s here, and I’m glad he’s been able to make those plays that we saw him make previously, too, with the other places that he’s been.
While iving up two first round draft picks and a second round pick to get Stills and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil certainly wasn’t a shining moment in Houston trade history (especially with what the Astros have been able to do over the last few years), both players seem like solid starting contributors that are filling needs the team desperately needed to address.
What do you think of Stills so far? Worth a first or second round pick? Think he’s just an afterthought in the Tunsil trade?