New youth football camp lets Andrew Billings ‘know where his home is’ | Baylor

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The NFL has taken Andrew Billings coast to coast as he has spent time with teams in three different time zones during his career. But, on some level, Billings’ watch is still set to WST – Waco Standard Time.

Billings is back in Waco this weekend, hosting a free soccer camp for kids ages 10-14 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Waco ISD Stadium. It’s something the former Waco High and Baylor defensive dynamo have wanted to do for a while. The camp framework first took shape in early 2020, but of course COVID-19 came along and caused the game to be delayed, so to speak.

“That pushed the first camp to tomorrow,” Billings said Friday. “But I also started a foundation and wanted to do something in Waco for the kids. I reached out to coach (Ed) Love and offered to host the camp at the stadium.

While camp organizers were still expecting dates on Saturday, they were pleased with the response from the Waco community for this inaugural event. At the weekend, they were practically at capacity.

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The camp will offer specific instructions and exercises based on the position. But it will also give kids a chance to run and play, Billings said.

“We have different skills and basic football moves, agility drills for the kids to do,” he said. “It’s more about getting them into different competitions, having fun, being outside and enjoying football. Just be a kid.

When it comes to downing the strongest defender to ever come out of Waco, this guy should be at the top of the list. At Waco High, Billings started both ways on the defensive and offensive lines, and he was a brute whether he was delivering blocks or running through them.

He also excelled as a powerlifter, and as a high school student broke then 22-year-old Mark Henry’s state record for most weights lifted on his way to a second straight state championship, lifting a total of 2,010 pounds in the squat, bench press, and deadlift. He was the 2012 Tribune-Herald Super Centex Male Athlete of the Year.

Billings kept him local for college, signing with Baylor and becoming a devastating force in the middle of the Bears defensive line. During his junior year of 2015, he earned First Team All-America and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, totaling 40 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks that season.

He entered the NFL Draft after that season and was selected in the fourth round by the Cincinnati Bengals. Billings played four seasons with the Bengals before signing with the Cleveland Browns in 2020. He also spent time on practice squads with the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs before signing with the Las Raiders. Vegas in February.

Billings actually traveled to Waco on Thursday after attending the Raiders’ mini-camp, and he will return to Vegas on Sunday to prepare for next season.

“I’m looking forward to it – new place, new team, new environment,” Billings said. “Something is brewing over there in Vegas. … We’re all working hard over there. It’s nice to be on a team where everyone’s focused.

Nonetheless, Billings plans to take advantage of this brief layover in his hometown. He hopes to drop by Bush’s Chicken – “It’s the best,” he said – and of course looks forward to Saturday’s opportunity to mingle with Waco’s young football talent. It was important to Billings to make this camp a free event because he didn’t want anyone to be turned away just because they couldn’t afford the registration fee.

“Certainly, I wanted all the kids to be able to come,” Billings said. “I didn’t want any limits. Just come who you are and wherever you are from and have fun.

Billings is the latest in a line of Central Texas football warriors who went on to the NFL before returning to stage camps for kids in their former hometowns. LaDainian Tomlinson held Camp LT in Waco for over a decade, and Waco High alum Derrick Johnson, Mexia’s Kelvin Beachum, and Killeen Ellison’s Tommie Harris have also hosted similar events.

Billings is happy to join the fray. He previously lent his name to Waco ISD for a powerlifting meet, but this event will be even more meaningful, as it will give him a hands-on opportunity to get out on the field and be a kid again.

“It’s very special, man. I was thinking about that earlier,” Billings said. “It’s really a gift not only for the children, but for me. When I come back and see them, it really grounds me, it lets me know that even though I’ve lived in a lot of different places, it lets me know where my home is. Reminds me of what I looked like back then.

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