Steelers 2013 Draft – West Virginia WR Tavon Austin Scouting Report Profile
As far as we know, the Pittsburgh Steelers didn\’t have West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin in for a pre draft visit, but he has long been associated as being a first round selection possibility if still on the board at 17th overall. Our scouting buddy Dave-Te\’ Thomas was kind enough to give us his detailed scouting report profile on him, which you can read below.
Wide Receiver/Return Specialist
West Virginia University Mountaineers
Dunbar High School
Austin is a classic case that “big things come in small packages.” The versatile athlete has outstanding quickness getting into the deep secondary and even though he lacks bulk, he has shown the balance and leg drive to break tackles as a ball carrier. Where Austin excels is taking the screen pass and slipping through the crowd to break into the open field. He is ideally suited to handle the slot receiver duties, as he displays great vision and the ability to quickly locate the soft areas on the field.
Much like Minnesota’s Percy Harvin and Philadelphia’s Jeremy Maclin, Austin adds to his resume as an explosive return specialist. With his short stature and acceleration, he has also been favorably compared to former Kansas City All-Pro jack-of-all-trades, Dante Hall. Wherever he lines up on the field, he is a threat to score, having caught 29 balls for touch-downs, in addition to running for six more scores, in addition to taking six kickoffs and one punt into the end zone.
Among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision performers, Austin leads that group with 288 receptions, ranking second with 3,413 aerial yards and third with 29 touchdown grabs. His 97 kickoff returns placed seventh among active players, and his 2,407 kickoff return yards finished sixth while ranking tied for fourth with four kicks returned for scores. He is one of just two active players to amass over 6,000 all-purpose yards, leading the nation with an impressive total of 7,286 yards and an average of 13.77 yards per play.
Handling a variety of roles is nothing new for Austin. Playing for head coach Lawrence Smith at Baltimore powerhouse Dunbar High School, he started at running back, but was often used in the slot and handled return duties. The two-time consensus Maryland Player of the Year and All-State choice would close out his career as the state record-holder with 790 points scored, 123 total touchdowns, 9,258 all-purpose yards and 7,962 yards rushing.
Austin ran for 1,200 yards and 32 touchdowns as a sophomore. The following season, he rushed for 2,553, an average of 12.9 yards per carry and 32 touchdowns, had 17 receptions for 335 yards and three touchdowns, scored twice on kickoff returns and two more times on punt returns. He also collected 50 tackles and had four interceptions.
The three-time Baltimore Sun Player of the Year and Digital Sports’ All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year tallied 2,660 yards rushing on 218 carries (12.2 ypc) and scored 34 touchdowns as a senior. He also returned twelve punts for 446 yards and a pair of scores.
In the Crab Bowl, featuring the top high school players in Maryland, Austin caught three passes for 105 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown and also returned a kickoff 84 yards for a score.
The blue chip prize for West Virginia from their 2009 recruiting class, Austin was converted to wide receiver as a true freshman, as the ESPN.com Freshman All-Big East Conference choice appeared in thirteen games, starting four contests while sharing slot receiver duties with Jock Sanders. He gained 151 yards with a score on fifteen catches (10.07 ypc), rushed six times for 47 yards, posted two tackles and averaged 25.06 yards on seventeen kickoff returns that included a 98-yard touchdown vs. Connecticut.
In thirteen 2010 games, Austin started eleven contests, as the All-Big East Conference first-team selection generated 1,178 all-purpose yards, ranking second on the squad with 58 catches for 787 yards (13.57 ypc) and eight scores. He tallied 161 yards and another score on sixteen carries (10.06 ypc) and averaged 19.17 yards on twelve kickoff returns.
After playing the H-back position as a sophomore, Austin returned to the slot receiver position in 2011. He earned All-American honors as a return specialist, All-Big East Conference first-team accolades as both a receiver and returner, in addition to receiving Big East Special Teams Player of the Year recognition.
His 2,574 all-purpose yards led the nation and rank second on both the school and Big East annual record charts. His 101 receptions, good for 1,186 yards (11.74 ypc) with eight scores, also placed second on the conference season-record list. Austin’s average of 7.77 receptions per game ranked eighth in the nation, while his punt return average of 14.11 yards placed sixth in the FBS ranks. He scored on an 80-yard run vs. Rutgers, gaining 182 yards on sixteen carries and set the school record while ranking ninth on the Big East season chart with 938 yards on 36 kickoffs, tying the league mark by returning two for scores.
Few experts expected a repeat performance for Austin in 2012, but the senior further impressed with stellar play, whether catching, running or returning the ball. The consensus All-American and All-Big Twelve Conference first-team choice was named the league’s co-Special Teams Player of the Year, as his 2,910 all-purpose yards not only set school and Big Twelve season records, that total also ranks fourth on the NCAA FBS annual record chart.
Austin’s 114 receptions tied the Mountaineers’ season-record while his 1,289 receiving yards rank second, scoring twelve times with those grabs. Pressed into duty as a ball carrier, he gained 643 yards with three scores on 72 tries, including 344 yards vs. Oklahoma, the second-highest game total by a West Virginia player and fourth-best on the Big Twelve game-record list. He finished the game with 572 all-purpose yards, the second most in FBS history and a new Big Twelve record.
The senior scored again while averaging 11.0 yards on fifteen punt returns. He finished third in the league with 32 kickoff returns totaling 813 yards (25.41 avg), the fourth-best yardage total in a campaign by a WVU performer. His 104 points scored placed tenth on the school annual record list.
Austin would close out his career as the 2012 winner of the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the nation\’s most versatile player. “I am honored and humbled to be selected as the winner of the prestigious Paul Hornung Award,” Austin said in an official statement. “Whether I am on the field as a receiver, in the backfield or as a returner, I have high expectations for myself, and I have always tried to use my versatility to help my team be successful. I want to thank my coaches and teammates for helping me achieve this honor.”
Austin started 37-of-52 games at West Virginia, where he set the school career-record with 7,286 all-purpose yards on 529 plays, an average of 140.12 yards per game, also setting school all-time marks with 288 receptions for 3,413 yards (11.85 ypc), as his 29 touchdown grabs placed second on the WVU all-time chart…Generated 1,033 yards with six scores on 110 carries (9.39 ypc), as he also returned 34 punts for 433 yards, placing third on the all-time record chart with a 12.74-yard average while running back one punt for a score…His 2,407 yards via 97 kickoff returns were good for another school record, as he scored four times with those kickoffs, totaling 242 points…Also recorded five tackles (4 solos)…His 7,286 all-purpose yards rank seventh in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history, as he became just the tenth player in major college annals to tally over 7,000 all-purpose yards in a career, along with shattering the all-time Mountaineers mark of 5,761 yards by Noel Devine (2007-10)…His 288 receptions rank 20th in NCAA history and surpassed the old school career-record of 206 catches by Jock Sanders (2007-10)…Austin’s 3,413 receiving yards established a WVU all-time record, as he joined teammate Stedman Bailey (3,097; 2010-12) as the only Mountaineers to gain over 3,000 receiving yards in a career, topping the old school mark of 2,608 yards by David Saunders (1995-98)…With thirteen 100-yard receiving performances, the only receiver with more in school annals is Bailey (14)…The senior’s 29 touchdown catches also trail record-holder Bailey (41) on the school career list…His 242 points scored rank seventh in Mountaineers annals…Austin’s average of 12.74 yards per punt return is third-best by a WVU player behind Jack Stone (17.8 avg; 1952-53) and John Mallory (14.9 avg; 1965-67)…Set the school all-time record with 2,407 yards gained via kickoff returns, topping the previous mark of 1,747 yards by Shawn Terry (1999-2001)…Austin’s kickoff return average of 24.81 yards is seventh-best in school annals…The Mountaineers played in the Big East Conference during Austin’s first three seasons, where his tally of 4,374 all-purpose yards rank twelfth on the league all-time record list…His 174 receptions as a Big East member tied Latef Grim of Pittsburgh (1998-2000) and West Virginia’s David Saunders (1995-98) for ninth on the conference career chart…His three kickoff returns for touchdowns during his first three seasons are topped by only Mardy Gilyard of Cincinnati (four; 2005, 2007-09) and Kevin Johnson of Syracuse (four; 1995-98) on the Big East all-time record list.
The Big Twelve Conference co-Special Teams Player of the Year was the recipient of the Paul Hornung Award, given to the most versatile player in the nation…Named a semi-finalist for the Biletnikoff Award (nation’s top receiver), Austin received All-American first-team honors from The NFL Draft Report, American Football Coaches Association and CBS Sports as an all-purpose back, adding second-team honors from CBS Sports and the Walter Camp Foundation as a receiver…Added All-Big Twelve Conference first-team recognition as a kick returner and all-purpose back from the league’s coaches and ESPN, while garnering second-team accolades as a receiver from the Associated Press…Became the first Mountaineer to score a touchdown four different ways in one season (catch, rush, kick and punt return)…Joined fellow wide-out Stedman Bailey in setting the school season-record with 114 receptions, ranking third nationally with an average of 8.77 grabs per game…His 114 catches broke his previous school mark of 101 receptions in 2011 and placed sixth on the Big Twelve annual record chart…His 1,289 receiving yards (11.31 ypc)
Rank second on the school season list behind Bailey’s 2012 figure of 1,622…Austin’s twelve touchdown catches tied Bailey (2011), Darius Reynaud (2007) and Chris Henry (2004) for second on the WVU annual chart behind Bailey’s 26 scoring grabs in 2012…
His 104 points rank tenth on the school season-record list…Added 643 yards with three touchdowns on 72 carries (8.93 ypc), as he returned fifteen punts for 165 yards (11.00 avg) and a score…Ranked third in the Big Twelve with a 25.41-yard kickoff return average, as he totaled 813 yards with a touchdown on 32 runbacks…His 813 kickoff return yards tied
Darius Reynaud (2006) and Nate Terry (1997) for the fourth-best season total by a WVU player…Austin led the nation with an average of 223.85 all-purpose yards per game, setting school and Big Twelve season-records with a total of 2,910 yards, surpassing the old WVU mark of 2,574 yards by Austin in 2011 and the league record of 2,833 yards by Jeremy Maclin of Missouri in 2008…The only players in NCAA FBS history to gain more all-purpose yards in a season were Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State (3,250 in 1998), Ryan Benjamin of Pacific (2,995 in 1991) and Chris Johnson of East Carolina (2,960 in 2007)…
Gained at least 100 yards receiving in six contests and generated at least 200 all-purpose yards in seven games…The season began with Austin totaling 1`73 yards on three runs for 66, ten catches for 53 and a score, 19 on three punt returns and 35 on a kick-off return vs. Marshall…Followed with 113 yards and a touchdown on ten catches vs. James Madison and totaled 225 all-purpose yards that included thirteen grabs for 179 yards and three touchdowns vs. Maryland…Produced a career-high 215 yards with two touchdowns on fourteen catches and returned two kickoffs for 72 yards while posting 286 all-purpose yards vs. Baylor. At that time, it was the sixth time a WVU player gained over 200 yards receiving in a game, as just Stedman Bailey’s 303 yards in the Baylor clash and 225 yards vs. Oklahoma State later in the season rank ahead of Austin’s figure on the WVU game-record chart…His 286 all-purpose yards vs. Baylor rank tenth on the school game-record list…Added 222 all-purpose yards vs. Texas, as he snared ten balls for 102 yards and a score while returning three kickoffs for 111 yards as the key points for that clash…His 233 all-purpose yards vs. Kansas State saw Austin grab six balls for 34 yards and a score, along with exploding for 199 yards and a 100-yard touchdown on three kickoff returns…
Austin registered 202 all-purpose yards, scoring once on eleven grabs for 101 yards and again on a 76-yard punt return vs. Texas Christian…Austin shifted to tailback when injuries depleted that unit and he exploded for a school record, as he amassed 572 all-purpose yards that included 344 with two scores on 21 carries, 82 yards on four catches and 146 yards on eight kickoff returns vs. Oklahoma. His 572 yards topped the old WVU mark of 356 by Garrett Ford vs. Pittsburgh in 1965 and he joined Emmett White of Utah State (578 vs. New Mexico State in 2000) as the only major college players to post over 500 all-purpose yards in a game. His 344 yards on the ground broke the previous school game-record of 337 yards by Kay-Jay Harris (vs. East Carolina in 2007) and rank third on the Big Twelve game chart behind Troy Davis of Iowa State (378 vs. Missouri in 1996) and Ricky Williams of Texas (350 vs. Iowa State in 1998)…The next week, Austin recorded 261 all-purpose yards, as he ran fourteen times for 74 yards, made six catches for 99 yards with a touchdown, returned two kickoffs for 46 yards and had a 42-yard punt return vs. Iowa State…Continued to operate out of the backfield, carrying twelve times for 77 yards and a score, as he also grabbed four passes for 110 yards vs. Kansas in the season finale…The senior closed out his career with 45 yards on eleven runs, 30 yards on four catches and 75 yards on four kickoff returns vs. Syracuse in the Champs Sports Bowl.
Austin earned All-American first-team honors as a return specialist from The NFL Draft Report, CBS Sports and Phil Steele, adding third-team accolades from the Associated Press…The All-Big East Conference first-team choice received league Special Teams Player of the Year and West Virginia Offensive Player of the Year recognition, in addition to being selected to the All-Bowl squads named by Yahoo! Sports, CBS Sports and College Football News….Returned to slot receiver, starting eleven games, as he set a then school season-record with 101 receptions for 1,186 yards (11.74 ypc) and eight touch-downs, topping the previous WVU mark of 77 grabs by David Saunders (1998). The only Big East player to record more receptions in a season was Mohamed Sanu of Rutgers, who snared 115 balls during the 2011 campaign…His average of 7.77 receptions per game ranked second in the Big East and eighth in the nation, while his average of 91.23 yards receiving per game was third-best in the league…Third on the team with sixteen carries for 182 yards (11.38 ypc) and a score…Totaled 66 points and recorded a solo tackle in the Louisiana State clash…His 268 yards gained on nineteen punt returns (led the Big East and placed sixth in the FBS with a 14.11-yard average) was the tenth-highest total by a Mountaineer in a season…His average of 26.06 yards on 36 kickoff returns for a WVU season-record 938 yards ranked third in the conference, as he returned two of those kicks for touchdowns…His 938 yards surpassed the old school mark of 867 yards by Adam Jones in 2003…Led the nation with an average of 198.00 all-purpose yards per game, as he touched the ball 172 times for a then school record 2,574 yards, joining Steve Slaton (2,104 in 2006) as the only Mountaineers to register 2,000 all-purpose yards in a season…His average of 198.00 all-purpose yards per game rank second on the Big East season-record list behind Mardy Gilyard of Cincinnati (206.92-yard average in 2009)…Gained at least 100 yards receiving five times and had at least ten receptions in four games…Also posted five performances for at least 200 all-purpose yards…The first was a 243-yard performance vs. Maryland that came after the receiver made eleven catches for 122 yards and had 121 yards on six kickoff returns…Followed with 287 yards on eleven grabs for 187 yards and six kickoff returns for 100 yards vs. Louisiana State, as his 287 yards rank ninth on the Mountaineers game-record chart…Produced 271 all-purpose yards that included 90 on seven catches with a score and 161 yards on five kickoff returns vs. Louisville…Added 1216 yards on nine receptions vs. Cincinnati, followed by 208 all-purpose yards that included a 90-yard kickoff return for a score vs. South Florida…Set school, BCS and Orange Bowl records when he caught four touchdowns among his twelve grabs for 123 yards vs. Clemson, as those twelve catches tied a school bowl record. He set another WVU bowl mark by scoring 24 points, adding 40 yards on three carries and 117 yards on five kickoff returns to set another school record by tallying 280 all-purpose yards.
An All-Big East Conference first-team choice by the league’s coaches, Austin started eleven of the thirteen games he appeared in at the “H” receiver position, ranking second on the team with 58 receptions for 787 yards (13.57 ypc) and eight touchdowns…Rushed sixteen times for 161 yards, returned twelve kickoffs for 230 yards (19.17 avg) and was third on the team with 1,178 all-purpose yards…His average of 4.46 catches per game ranked fourth in the Big East, and his average of 60.54 receiving yards was the fifth-best mark in the league…Gained over 100 yards receiving twice – 106 yards with two scores on seven catches vs. Maryland and 121 yards on six grabs that included a score vs. Rutgers.
The Freshman All-Big East Conference selection started at slot receiver vs. East Carolina, Auburn, Louisville and Pittsburgh while appearing in all thirteen games…Caught fifteen passes for 151 yards (10.07 ypc) and a touchdown (58-yarder vs. East Carolina)…Rushed six times for 47 yards (7.83 ypc), including scoring on a 9-yard carry vs. Louisville…Had seventeen kickoff returns for 426 yards (25.06 avg), finding the end zone with a 98-yard runback vs. Connecticut, the seventh-longest kickoff return in school history.
No major injuries reported.
4.28 in the 40-yard dash…1.46 10-yard dash…2.45 20-yard dash…3.98 20-yard shuttle…
10.88 60-yard shuttle…6.59 three-cone drill…37-inch vertical jump…10’2” broad jump… Bench pressed 225 pounds 15 times…30 1/8-inch arm length…8 ½-inch hands…71 7/8-inch wingspan.
Austin attended Dunbar (Baltimore, Md.) High School, playing football for head coach Lawrence Smith…Started at running back, but was often used in the slot and handled return duties…The two-time consensus Maryland Player of the Year and All-State choice would close out his career as the state record-holder with 790 points scored, 123 total touchdowns, 9,258 all-purpose yards and 7,962 yards rushing…Ran for 1,200 yards and 32 touchdowns as a sophomore…The following season, he rushed for 2,553, an average of 12.9 yards per carry and 32 touchdowns, had 17 receptions for 335 yards and three touch-downs, scored twice on kickoff returns and two more times on punt returns…Also made 50 tackles and had four interceptions…The three-time Baltimore Sun Player of the Year and Digital Sports’ All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year tallied 2,660 yards rushing on 218 carries (12.2 ypc) and scored 34 touchdowns as a senior…Also returned twelve punts for 446 yards and a pair of scores…In the Crab Bowl, featuring the top high school players in Maryland, Austin caught three passes for 105 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown and also returned a kickoff 84 yards for a score.
Multidisciplinary Studies major and member of the Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll… Son of Cathy Green…Born 3/15/91…Resides in Baltimore, Maryland.