Five WVU Freshmen To Watch: No. 1, WR/RB Tavon Austin

Frank AhrensSenior Writer ISeptember 9, 2009

It's probably safe to say that Tavon Austin, a former Poet of Dunbar High in Baltimore, is West Virginia's most-decorated recruit since Noel Devine.

Devine-sized and Devine-quick, Austin was the two-time Maryland offensive player of the year as a running back.

Austin got into WVU's first game last Saturday against Liberty to little effect. He rushed one time for four yards on a reverse, caught one pass for four yards and returned one kickoff for 14 yards, after muffing the catch. Coach Stewart likes to say, we assumed hyperbolically, that freshmen "don't know which way to run." That was not hyperbole for Austin, but the truth

No matter, though. Once you see his high school video below, you'll see what he's capable of. Our take on high school highlights has always been: In order to succeed at the big-time college football level, running backs need to be far superior to their high school opposition.

If a high school running back looks only pretty good on his video, he'll never be more than a practice player in college. Devine looked spectacular on his video; so does Austin.


Austin's calling card:

Quickness and elusiveness. Though his top-end speed is plenty fast, it's his lateral moves and acceleration that, to quote Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail sports writer Mike Casazza, are almost "ghost like."

Size, nearly meaningless high school stats:

5' 9", 164 pounds. Yes, you read that right. One-hundred-sixty-four pounds. That's why he won't be a running back at WVU. He could, however, make an excellent shifty slot back. As for his high school stats, this is the only one you need to know: As a senior, he averaged more than 12 yards per carry. A first-down each time he touched the ball. He also was recruited by Penn State, Nebraska, Virginia, Illinois, South Carolina, Rutgers and Boston College.

The plan:

Getting Austin enough play-making touches during the course of the game to make him an additional legitimate weapon, alongside Devine and Jock Sanders.

Where you'll see Austin on the field:

Slot receiver, where he'll catch passes and run reverses, and returning kickoffs.



Three thoughts:

a) The first punt return is electrifying.

b) The way he plays with the pursuing would-be tackler at about the 2:30 mark is terrifying.

c) A lot of showboating.