Davis Mills approaches elite QB status

Davis Mills (Phil Skinner/AJC File)

Davis Mills (Phil Skinner/AJC File)

Davis Mills doesn’t have time to wait around.

It’s a Wednesday afternoon at Greater Atlanta Christian, the temperature is peaking near the mid-90s, and the 4-star quarterback is pushing the tempo at practice.

It’s intentional.

The left cornerback is playing press coverage, and Mills knows he has him beat. He quickly audibles.

His receiver runs a go-route, and Mills, with the touch and precision that’s led scouts to believe that he’s the best play-caller in the state, lofts the ball with perfect trajectory.

“He’s a highly trained, fundamentally sound, detailed quarterback,” said Tim Hardy, GAC’s coach. “If you watch his footwork, if you watch his throwing motion, if you watch the way that he handles everything, physically, about the position, it really is impressive.”

In a state that’s oozing with talent under center (see McEachern’s Bailey Hockman and Cartersville’s Trevor Lawrence), Mills is bolstering his case as arguably the best quarterback in all of Georgia, regardless of school grade. But for how in sync the 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior is on the football field, he’s anything but when it comes to recruiting rankings or opinions.

Which college leads for Mills? He doesn’t have any favorites right now, at least publicly. He may commit later this season, but he’s unsure. Mills’ mind is on football. Just football.

Right now, he’s probably submersed in game film in his basement, a habit he developed as a 10-year-old with his father, Steve, or he’s staying on top of his soda-free, lots-of-Chipotle diet. Or he’s reading Of Mice and Men to satisfy his summer reading requirements, though he’s not particularly fond of the ending.

“He’s constantly engaged in the process,” said Hardy. “His desire to improve is never going to end.”

Mills the football player, though, is something out of a lab. He’s calculated, has prototypical size, a rocket arm. He can make every throw, and he knows precisely when to throw them.

And although he’s not a vocal leader, he is always in complete control. 

Davis Mills (StudentSports)

Davis Mills (StudentSports)

“He’s not a rah-rah, cheerleader-type guy,” his father, Steve, said. “He’s always been more of a coach or the director on the field.”

If Mills is a director, then practice is his movie set. He’s meticulous. There can be no deviating from the original script unless it gets his stamp of approval. If one of his receivers needs to get more width on his split or take the post two yards deeper, Mills makes him aware.

“He’s been taught since he was young that as the quarterback, the leader of the team, you’re there to help everyone else out,” his father said.

To no surprise, Mills’ offer list is growing like a weed. As a sophomore, he finished the season with 2,267 passing yards and 26 touchdowns, including 313 yards on the ground and six touchdowns. Mills led GAC to a 14-1 record before finishing as the state runner-up. An offseason later, he holds 20 offers.

And in the last 10 days, he’s secured one from both Stanford and Michigan, two programs that are known as much for their academics as their quarterback play.

“A lot of my offers are like that,” Davis Mills said. “All the offers I have, the schools know my priorities and know I’m interested in academics, and they come to me or recruit me because they know what type of person I am.”

Mills is as particular about his four-year future as he is his receivers’ alignment. His goal is not to attend just any school. He wants to thrive academically.

“Some of the institutions that have offered him scholarships are world-class institutions that are sort of life-changer types of places,” said Hardy. “If football works out, great. If football doesn’t work out, you have a degree from a Vanderbilt or a Wake Forest or a Stanford or Northwestern, that’s pretty solid.”

But what would be a good fit for him on the field?

Hardy says that colleges and the recruiting world alike want to categorize him as a pro-style quarterback, which he says is appropriate. But while Mills may prefer a pro-style or spread system a little more than the zone-read or Wing-T, his coach believes he can do anything and everything.

Like when Mills battled through a strained oblique and a stomach virus that cost him 10 pounds during GAC’s Class AA state semifinal game against Fitzgerald High School last December.

Or when, in his third start as a sophomore, he overcame a sluggish night against Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy and threw a game-winning touchdown with seconds left.

“It’s easy when it’s sunny and 75 (degrees) and the post is open and you’re hitting it, it’s really not that hard,” said Hardy. “But when you can fight through and still find a way to get it done against a really good opponent, I said, ‘This kid is real, he’s good.’”

To be that good, though, requires sacrifice. That’s why Mills doesn’t go to parties and avoids chocolate and junk food at all costs. He’s been all football all the time ever since he began playing as a six-year-old in the Peachtree Ridge Youth Association.

“When you surround yourself with the game, you love it more and more every day,” Mills said.

Greater Atlanta Christian will face Woodward Academy on Friday, Aug. 14, at 7:30 p.m.


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