There really wasn’t a question about Troy finding a starting running back this spring.
B.J. Smith last season was the Trojans’ third back in the past four years to gain over 1,000 yards on the ground. Smith will return for his senior season, along with junior Jabir Daughtry-Frye, who remains a big-play threat as a rusher and receiver out of the backfield.
“With B.J. and Frye, both are veteran guys who have played,” new head coach Chip Lindsey said even before spring practice started. “Obviously, I’m curious to see a couple other guys in that group I don’t know much about yet.”
Scottsboro High School alum D.K. Billingsley has spent a good part of the last five weeks getting Lindsey’s attention. The 5-11, 207-pound sophomore from Scottsboro has been physical all spring. Two weeks ago, he was one of the bright spots for the offense when he rushed for two touchdowns – one on a big play and the other on the goal line.
“He’s had a great spring,” Lindsey said after the scrimmage. “He’s been one of the more impressive running backs. I think he’s maybe one of the most improved.
“Obviously, you know what you get with B.J. He’s played a ton. But I’ve really been pleased with D.K. Excited about him. He’s a great kid and I think he’s had a really good spring.”
Last season, as a redshirt freshman Billingsley rushed for 148 yards on 35 carries in six games. His best game was against Florida A&M, when he gained 64 yards on 10 carries.
Last Saturday, Billingsley scored a 1-yard rushing touchdown — the first of Troy’s T-Day Spring Game — and totaled 19 rushing yards in all to help the Grey team defeat the White 26-7.
Beyond Smith, Daughtry-Frye and Billingsley, Charles Strong – a transfer from Texas A&M who likely will have to sit out this fall – has been solid. Josh Mays and Trevon Woolfolk, both redshirt freshmen, have also drawn the attention of coaches.
“I think our depth’s good,” Lindsey said at the outset of spring.
Billingsley relished his opportunity to show what he can do in Troy’s scrimmage April 13. He broke loose on a 40-yard sprint to the end zone early in the scrimmage. Then he capped the first drive of the second half.
Billingsley ran a wheel route up the left sideline and caught a 21-yard pass from Sawyer Smith. Two plays later, he scored over left guard from the 1.
“It felt awesome to get the opportunity to make plays,” Billingsley said, adding the conditions were tough. “The heat. Playing physical ball. Coach Lindsey, he gave the ball to the running backs.”
› Ken Rogers is a sports writer/reporter for The Dothan Eagle.