There was no last-decision change of heart on Wednesday for Baylor pledge Andrew Billings, the 2013 Waco (Texas) defensive tackle who committed to the Bears on Tuesday and signed on Wednesday.
After all the rumors of pending announcements from Billings, from before the season to during the season, to after the season, the 6-2, 315-pounder finally announced that he will stay at home to attend school at Baylor on David Smoak's Waco radio show.
The consensus four-star prospect whose stock has risen steadily throughout the process chose the Baylor Bears over his other finalists TCU and Texas. Billings is ranked as the no. 13 defensive tackle in the country and the no. 18 player in the state of Texas by the 247Sports composite rankings. Billings held offers from Arizona State, Boise State, Colorado, Colorado State, Duke, Indiana, Iowa State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and many others.
The addition of Billings to the Bears class is a significant achievement -- other than the pending addition of former Euless (Texas) Trinity linebacker Brian Nance from last year's class, defensive lineman Javonte Magee, and hybrid defender Ahmad Dixon, the Bears have had trouble in recent years landing high-quality defensive players. On offense, the problems have been less pronounced and the track record under Briles better at developing overlooked recruits.
Billings cited comfort level as one of the major appeals in remaining at home. Originally, he said that he wanted to get away from home for college, but eventually got over that feeling and "realized that Baylor is the place for me."
As expected, Billings once again expressed his preference to play on the defensive side of the ball.
In an age when many public commitment announcements carry little drama, the Billings recruitment presented as much intrigue and as little information as any, with most public statements through the last four or five months coming from the Waco high school coach Marty Herbst.
Texas was thought to lead throughout the summer and could have been in line to receive a commitment from the powerful lineman had he made a decision before his senior season, as it seemed he had planned for some time. As the recruitment extended into the season and well beyond it, there was more news in the form of a Hookem.com report that Billings had tried to commit to Texas during his official visit in December.
Eventually, the buzz died down about the 'Horns as Billings took official visits to Baylor and TCU, with the Bears possessing the hometown advantage of being able to get him on campus more often.
What stands out about Billings more than anything else as a player is his strength. A state powerlifting champion who could bench press 470 pounds, squat 700 pounds, and dead lift 635 pounds before his senior season, Billings packs an incredible punch on both sides of the football, registering 134 pancakes as a junior on offense, an extraordinary number. Suffice it to say that when the 315-pounder gets his hands on opponents, they go down more often than that.
As a high school player, the Waco product is probably a slightly better player on the offensive side of the ball where he can so consistently plant defenders, though all three finalists eventually decided to recruit him as a defensive tackle. Typically, prospects the size of Billings end up on the defensive line, where their lack of height can sometimes be an advantage because their height can allow them to get lower and win the all-important leverage battle against taller players. While that certainly applies on offense, it's much more rare to see a 6-1 offensive lineman in major-college football.
If strength is any indicator of future success in college, Andrew Billings will go on to have quite the career.
Recruitment timeline: Billings committed to Baylor on February 5th, ending a long recruitment that was supposed to end several times before Tuesday.
Andrew Billings 2012 Highlights (via WacoHighLions2012)
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