West Virginia Football: Tavon Austin Ready to Emerge as Nation's Top Playmaker

Amit BatraCorrespondent IIIJune 16, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04:  Tavon Austin #1 of the West Virginia Mountaineers scores a 37-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

For the West Virginia football team to have success in the Big 12 Conference, senior wide receiver and return specialist Tavon Austin will need to be one of the emerging stars in the nation.

The high-octane receiver is out of Dunbar High School in Baltimore, MD., and showed his agility in the first couple of years at WVU.  As a running back in high school, Austin was able to rush for over 2,000 yards and score over 30 touchdowns. 

As a freshman, Austin was converted to a wide receiver.  He had solid seasons as a freshman and sophomore, but really emerged as a junior.  He had 101 receptions and over 1,000 yards receiving during his junior year.  The star receiver also earned All-American honors as a return specialist. 

In the 2012 Orange Bowl, Austin broke an Orange Bowl record of four touchdowns in the 70-33 rout over Clemson.  He showed just what he could do on a football field. 

The nation has noticed the speed of Austin. In a key comparison between Clemson's Sammy Watkins and West Virginia's Austin in the Orange Bowl, the Mountaineer seemed to impress more with his speed, ability to make plays out of tough situations and simply making life difficult for the defense. 

It will be interesting to see how Austin and quarterback Geno Smith fare against Big 12 defenses.  In a conference dominated by powerful offenses, WVU will have the opportunity to put up a lot of points this season.

Austin's a tough cover for anyone in the nation, and he will definitely have opportunities to break some plays open for some touchdowns.

In this new system of Dana Holgorsen's offense, Austin can emerge as the nation's best playmaker.  He fits the play calls well, and has the ability to make positive situations in what usually appears to be a loss of yardage. 

Austin will go as far as Smith takes him.  Smith has matured since he started as a sophomore, and his decision making has become admirable.  Both have developed chemistry with one another. 

Austin can also emerge as a star wide receiver because of the other Mountaineers on the field.  This includes fellow 1,000-yard receiver Stedman Bailey.  WVU will have a lot of weapons outside of Austin, so the attention will not solely be on him.  Look out for freshman receiver Jordan Thompson to be impressive as well. 

Are you not convinced yet?

Austin only had eight touchdowns this past season, but averaged over 11 yards per reception.  As a sophomore, he averaged over 13 yards per reception.  Smith finds a way to get this guy the ball.  When the ball is in his grasp, just kick back and see a spectacle of speed, agility and a possible juke move or two. 

Expect Austin to have another 1,000-yard mark this season.  What sets Austin apart from other star receivers is his ability to get out of trouble and somehow create positive yardage. 

Let's see how the 5'9 receiver has progressed over the years.  In his freshman year, Austin had only 151 yards receiving in limited play.  Sophomore year saw him emerge as a fan favorite and key element of the offense.  Austin had eight touchdowns like his junior year, and also had 787 yards receiving.

Against a powerhouse LSU defense, Austin was able to get 11 receptions for 187 yards.  He finds a way to get space and get the ball.

Let's not forget this guy can return punts pretty well too.In the opening game against Marshall last season, Austin was able to return a kickoff for a touchdown.  Once this guy finds an opening, it's very difficult to take him down.  There's just too much speed and movement. 

It's exciting to see what is in store for Austin's last season at WVU.