Billings is the second best defensive lineman I've seen in person for the 2013 class, below Harker Heights center Darius James. His explosive strength, coupled with surprising athleticism and a nasty streak makes him an ideal fit either at defensive tackle — he plays a defensive end spot for Waco — or an interior offensive line spot.
Wearing No. 64 — he'll be back at #75 when the season starts — Billings had his moments on both sides of the ball Saturday, piling up the pancakes while playing offensive tackle, including an outstanding pancake on the move on the offensive perimeter. And defensively, he flashed on one play when he took a step to the outside, and sliced through a double-team block with an inside swim move.
Now, Billings will decide on his college of choice within the next week, with Texas recruiting Billings as an offensive lineman, while his other four finalists — Baylor, TCU, Mississippi State and SMU — want him on defense.
Billings wasn't the only impressive player on Waco's roster. Safety Adrian Norwood pulled in an outstanding interception along the sideline and is somebody to watch.
There isn't a ton to say about Smythe that hasn't already been said. He's much better in pads than out of them. He's developing and improving as a blocker — I would argue his Team USA experience, and having to block those kinds of athletes for a couple of weeks helped in that regard — and he's always been a tremendous pass-catcher.
That was certainly evident when he gathered in a tipped pass on a long throw over the middle. The defender tipped the ball once, pushing the ball up, and Smythe reached up over his head, gathered it with one hand before cradling it to his body as he went down. His soft hands, when paired with his outstanding route-running — people especially struggle to cover him on routes like a short pivot, which he runs incredibly well — make him a nightmare to defend in the passing game.
I've said this before, and I'll say it again, Smythe could be a long-term answer to the Longhorns' tight end woes.
He also appears to be on a pretty strong team. Keep an eye on linebacker Ryan Stinson, who was all over the field all day long.
I was a little disappointed that talented LBJ athlete (wide receiver/safety) Randon Knotts wasn't suited up. He's a tremendous player and a smooth athlete who would have been exciting in a setting like this.
And on the hoof, LBJ didn't look like Belton or Waco. They lacked the monsters in the trenches, and with Knotts out, didn't have a tall athletic target like the other sides had.
But football is played between the lines, and there, LBJ held up well. The Jaguars offset their lack of size by getting to the ball in a hurry and racking up the tackles for loss, a benefit drummed up through their excellent speed. Offensively, LBJ ran the ball well through the zone read and generally gave the opposing defenses trouble.
Knotts may be the team's lone BCS player at this point, and he gives them significant big-play ability in multiple phases, but with the way the Jaguars run, they'll be an exciting team to watch through this season. They might not pass the eye test before kickoff, but if Saturday was any indication, they'll cause some headaches afterward.