Billingsley gives Troy one-two punch at running back

Published 6:25 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2019

In an age when starting running backs are no longer getting 30 carries a game, the Troy Trojans feel they have found a running back in DK Billingsley to back up preseason player of the year B.J. Smith.

The Trojans rushed for 245 yards in their win over Campbell in the season opener. Smith led the team in rushing with 108 yards, but he did so on only 10 carries. As a backup, Billingsley had two more carries and finished with 86 yards and two touchdowns.

“It was an amazing feeling,” Billingsley said. “Working all spring, all summer, to get the opportunity to get out there and get on the field, show the coaches what I had, getting two touchdowns – I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”

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Billingsley’s two touchdowns were his first of his career. The first one came on the goal line and the second one came on a 36-yard run for the Trojans’ final touchdown of the game.

“That felt cool, just going in there and being a bull and digging in there,” Billingsley said. “That was amazing. Then later on in the game, busting an explosive run. That was just great.”

Despite his strong game, Billingsley embraces his role as the team’s backup running back this season and in no way feels like Smith should be looking over his shoulder.

“I mean, we’re going to try to be a duo, I believe this year,” Billingsley said. “We’re both very talented backs. B.J.’s really good. He’s looking to be the Sun Belt Player of the Year. So, I’m just here to be a complementary back to him.”

Billingsley and Smith are not the only running backs in the room. Jabir Frye is also sure to get his carries as well.

“I think it’s a great problem to have to be honest with you,” said Troy offensive coordinator Ryan Pugh. “When you can have two backs come into the game and carry the work load, I think it allows you to play faster, have guys who are fresh in the second half of the game, in the fourth quarter. I think it allows you to have depth.”

It’s a sign of the times as teams as it is now custom for teams to have more than one back on the roster getting meaningful carries.

“It’s a lot different nowadays than 10, 15 years ago when you just had one back getting 30 carries a game,” Billingsley said. “I think it’s very important (having more than one running back). I think that’s how recruiting is going. Just finding one, two, three backs to have. You can have that one back go out and you take another back and your offense stays the same. Nothing changes.”

Billingsley’s strong development started in the spring. He carried that progression into fall camp and so far into the season.

“He started doing that in the spring and I think that we saw this maturation process of him really stepping into his own in spring, summer and fall camp,” Pugh said. “That was a really bright spot for us and we feel really great about it.”

Billingsley’s two biggest areas of growth since the spring have been catching out of the back field and pass protection.

“Head coaches and offensive coordinators get a little scared having to put a young back in” Billingsley said. “Is he going to know who to get? If he doesn’t have anyone, is he going to be able to get out of the backfield and make a catch and get the first down or be explosive with the ball?”

Billingsley hopes to answer those questions starting this week when the Trojans welcome in Southern Miss on Saturday.