Billy McCrary III found his way to California thanks in part to a former Longhorn.
While watching high school football highlights on television one night, Spike Dykes—who coached at Texas for four years under Darrell K. Royal—got his first look at McCrary. The athlete in the clips impressed him, so he called his son and head coach of the Golden Bears, Sonny Dykes.
The California coaching staff kept a close eye on McCrary after that, but the Leander, Texas product committed to SMU. When Mustang head coach June Jones retired, however, the Golden Bears reached out again. McCrary took an official visit to Berkeley and before the weekend was over, he flipped to California.
“Berkley was the most Austin area type, so I felt at home,” McCrary said. “My dad always preached academics first so that was a big plus for Cal.”
McCrary attended Rouse High School in Leander where he became a standout quarterback and participated in track and field.
He accumulated 5,642 total yards of offense through three years as a varsity player and scored 72 touchdowns. He was the District 25-4A Offensive Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore in 2012 and led the Raiders to a state semifinal appearance that season. He was the leading rusher during each of his varsity seasons with Rouse.
But when he made the move to college football, McCrary also moved to the defensive side of the ball. He became a safety and worked with the special teams, but an injury brought his first season to a close after just one game.
Now, the redshirt freshman is back on offense and competing for touches as a part of California’s deep running back crew.
“He’s a very versatile athlete,” California running backs coach Garret Chachere said.
“He’s fast and has a skillset that makes him good at a lot of positions. He’s in a situation with players above him that are experienced and older, and I’m sure he wishes he was playing more, but he’s giving a great effort and we expect him to be ready when he gets his chance.”
McCrary made a good first impression at the spring game, rushing for 100 yards on four carries. Junior running backs Tre Watson and Vic Enwere currently sit atop California’s depth chart and will likely get most of the touches, but McCrary isn’t letting that discourage him.
“We have a really strong running back group so it’s hard to get reps,” McCrary said. “But I just take advantage of the touches I do get and I’m working hard to show the coaches what I can do and hopefully get some more playing time.”
McCrary offers a lot of speed and a high football IQ to the California offense. He’s learning a lot on the field and in film sessions from the veteran backs and Chachere said that he’ll know how to be physically and mentally tough when his playing time increases.
Though McCrary doesn’t know what kind of role he’ll play when his hometown team heads to California Memorial Stadium, he’s excited for the opportunity to face Texas and understands the ultimate goal is a Golden Bear victory.
“I grew up just 30 minutes from Austin and I always used to go to Texas games,” McCrary said. “It’s kind of a thrill. I watched them growing up and now I get to play them. I don’t care where I play or how many touches I get, I just want us to win.”