For Texas Longhorn football fans and recruiting aficionados, the past 10 days have seen more chaos on the recruiting front than any similar summer period in memory. Said chaos was highlighted by the shocking de-commitment of Sealy wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones, included rumors that defensive tackle commit A'Shawn Robinson of Fort Worth Arlington Heights had scheduled a visit with USC (after no-showing at both of Texas's June camps), and (hopefully) ended on Sunday when Fort Worth Southwest wide receiver Robert "Robbie" Rhodes publicly announced his commitment to Baylor, which represented Baylor's first head-to-head football recruiting victory over UT in a generation, possibly going back as far as the debacle that was the recruiting saga of Converse Judson's Jerod Douglas in 1994. (Note: I wrote this paragraph before news broke about the commitment of JUCO tight end Geoff Swaim.)
With all the recruiting turmoil that has unfolded in those 10 days, it's easy to overlook that this period actually began with some positive 2013 recruiting momentum with the surprising commitment of Cibolo Steele safety Eric Huhn after the June 3 Texas camp, followed by the equally surprising news that Waco OL/DL Andrew Billings had received an offer, though he had not been known by anyone to be on UT's radar. As Wescott noted at the time, Mr. Billings is literally the reason I was invited to become a contributor to BON, as the first post I ever wrote was inspired by my admiration of his junior film, and my surprise that he was not at the time being more widely touted by the recruiting analysts who are paid to tout players with his ability.
Since the publication of the raft of news stories that followed Billings's offer, there hasn't been much new to report, save some comments from his head coach on his recruitment, and a paywalled story from Scout about his (apparently) impressive performance at TCU's June 10 camp. Recently I managed to get in contact with young Mr. Billings through his father, who passed on to Andrew several questions I sent him via email. Most of Andrew's answers were short and to the point, which is probably for the best because, considering this young man's strength, I can only imagine how many keyboards he'd go through in a year if he typed essay-length responses. While he didn't reveal anything that could be called all-caps, exclamation point-laden headline news, I did get a few tidbits I thought I'd pass on.
More after the jump.* When I asked if he expected to play his senior season at right tackle on offense (where he has started since his sophomore year) or at some other spot on the line, he said he would be staying at right tackle. He also said his Waco High team would run essentially the same offensive scheme that they have employed the past few years. (Danny Ramsey, who had been Waco's head coach for Billings's first three years of high school, left in May to become the head coach at Tomball, and longtime Waco High assistant coach Marty Herbst was promoted to head coach a week later.)
* I mentioned fellow 2013 prospect Ben Hughes, who plays defensive tackle for Waco High's cross-town rival University High. Along with competing against each other on the football field, Hughes finished 2nd to Billings at the Division 1 State Powerlifting Meet in March, and then in track season the two were among the top finishers in the shot put at the District 8-4A meet (Hughes finished 1st, Billings 3rd) and the Class 4A Region 1 meet (Hughes 4th, Billings 5th). Billings said he and Hughes have known each other since middle school and have had a friendly rivalry as they compete against each other in multiple sports for rival schools. (Hughes, listed at 6'2" and 310 lbs., is graded as a three-star DT prospect by Rivals, and reportedly has offers from Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, and Tulsa. Four of those schools have also offered Billings.)
* I noted that he hadn't been reported by anyone as being on Texas's radar before he impressed the coaches at UT's June 3 camp and received his offer the next day. When I asked how long he had been in contact with the Texas staff, he said UT coaches (he didn't specify which) visited his school twice in May, and afterwards talked regularly with Waco's head coach about him attending one of Texas's camps.
* I asked if the coaches had specifically offered him to play offense, as was suggested in various reports after the June 3 camp, or if he'd been told he could play on defense. "They talk mostly about offense, but I am sure they know I can play defense too." I followed that up by asking if he'd gotten to talk much with defensive line coach Bo Davis, or just with offensive line coach Stacy Searels. "Mainly Coach Searels".
* He also said he did get to meet Bennie Wylie while he was on campus. When I asked his impression of Coach Wylie, he simply wrote, "He like[s] the weight room a lot." (I'll take that as a positive reaction, coming from a state powerlifting champion who will likely be the strongest player on campus the day he enrolls at his next school.)
* Has 2013 class leader Jake Raulerson been in contact with him since Texas offered? "Yes." How would he describe their conversations? "Positive."
* He said there was not a particular college football team that he was a fan of growing up, and indeed he said that he "did not watch a lot of college games growing up."
* I noted that his reported offers have come from schools in 13 different states and asked if distance would be a factor in his decision. He said it would not, no doubt heartening news to the schools in the other 12 states.
* Texas A&M is now the biggest program in Texas that has not yet offered Billings, which is surprising given that they reportedly evaluated him and invited him for a campus visit in the spring. Despite not offering him, A&M is one of six schools Billings is listed as having "warm" interest in on his 247Sports recruit profile. I did not ask him about the Aggies, but I did ask if he'd had any contact with Arkansas, another school he doesn't have an offer from but one that has no doubt seen him, as former Waco High defensive back Will Hines signed with the Razorbacks in February. He confirmed that Arkansas was among the schools that had sent coaches to Waco High during spring practice.
* As for his plans for the summer, he only offered that he would be "busy" (unsurprising), and planned to visit some of the schools that had offered him (which apparently included TCU at their camp this past Sunday). He said he didn't yet have a timetable for when he wanted to commit. He also said he was leaning toward majoring in business.
* When asked if he had a target weight he'd like to play at this fall, he said, "Around 305 is good for me." (305 was his official weigh-in at the state powerlifting meet. Waco High's 2011 football roster listed his weight at 280, but based on his junior highlights he was almost certainly bigger than that during the season.
* Billings plays both ways for Waco, lining up at right tackle when his team has the ball, and sporadically playing various spots along the defensive line when the opponent does. He is noted as a hard worker who gives his full effort throughout games, but he is understandably looking forward to the day when he can concentrate on just one side of the ball and actually have some time to sit down and rest on the sidelines during games.
Here's hoping that when he reaches the field at the next level, he'll be wearing burnt orange. In the relatively unlikely event that this post is the first you've read of Andrew Billings, consider this video your 4:45 crash course. This writer believes he's an easy take not only based on his potential to be a run-stuffing nose guard or road-grading interior offensive lineman, but also because having him in the class would give the Longhorn coaches more flexibility to mix and match the class's other linemen on defense or offense depending on need, namely A'Shawn Robinson, who - assuming he doesn't de-commit - could be an impact player on either line, and Darius James, who seems most likely to play center or guard, but whose film suggests he could be a quality defensive tackle if he was needed to play there (I actually like James's DT film more than what I've seen of Robinson at the position).
A lot can happen between now and National Signing Day (understatement of the summer!), but if Mack Brown and Jake Raulerson can bring Andrew Billings into the #DT2013 fold, Texas Longhorn fans are sure to have plenty of fun discussions on whether they'd rather see Billings line up on the field next to fellow weight room stud Tank Jackson, or flanked by some combination of Darius James, Curtis Riser, Sedrick Flowers, Kennedy Estelle, and Kent Perkins.