February 4, 2010 8:50:00 AM
BY HENRY MATUSZAK
ALICEVILLE, Ala. -- After visiting Alabama State last weekend, Derrick Billups believes it''s the right place for him.
The Aliceville High School defensive tackle signed a scholarship Wednesday to play football at Alabama State, in Montgomery, Ala.
The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Billups feels comfortable with Alabama State, which employs a 4-3 defensive alignment that is similar to Aliceville High''s defense.
"I''m just looking forward to coming in and making an impact," Billups said. "I know I''ll be comfortable with the defense. It won''t be hard to learn the plays. They will be basically the same plays we ran here. It really won''t be hard for me to adjust."
Billups was considered one of the nation''s top defensive tackles at the beginning of the season. Scout.com rated him a three-star defensive tackle and rated him No. 79 at that position.
This season, he averaged seven tackles per game, had four quarterback sacks, and four fumble recoveries.
"I think they''re getting a very sound football player," Aliceville High coach Robin Tyra said. "He''s very physical, very strong. I think he''s really going to develop in their system. If he works hard like I think he will, you''ll see a kid that could have fit into the big programs, too."
Billups said he was impressed with the campus and the facilities when he visited Alabama State
"They''re rebuilding," Billups said. "They''re getting new dorms and a new complex. I like the program because they''re rebuilding. They''re making it a better program."
Billups likes the thought of being part of that rebuilding process. He believes Alabama State (4-7 this season) was his best offer after he didn''t receive scholarship offers from the University of Alabama or Auburn. Alabama was at the top of his list at the beginning of the season.
"Alabama State recruited me hard," Billups said. "When it came right down to it, the offers weren''t there (from Alabama and Auburn) and Alabama State, Miles, and a couple of junior college made offers.
"I just take it as it goes. I understand ASU was the best offer, so I just took the offer and moved on."
Tyra said Billups has all the tools to become a good college defensive tackle.
"He drew a lot of double teams," Tyra said. "He has very violent hands. He''s going to plug holes and draw double teams. He''s learned to work low and stay low. I think that''s going to be a big plus for him because he''s big and quick with very good instincts."
Tyra said Billups reminds him of former Mississippi State defensive lineman Anthony Dunning, who he coached at Coffeeville (Ala.) High School.
Dunning was Alabama''s Class A Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2004.
Tyra believes Dunning made other Southeastern Conference schools regret they didn''t sign him, and he believes Billups will do the same thing.