We complete our 12 Days Countdown to Kickoff with #1 Tavon Austin. Cheers to the Mountaineers!
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Record: 28-11, Bowl Record: 1-2 including a BCS win
Tavon “Awesome” was the late Coach Bill Stewart’s finest recruit. He was made in the same mold as Jock Sanders before him. Austin though was much shiftier and elusive than Sanders was. He would get few opportunities to show off his athleticism as a freshman. He made the most of his few opportunities, scoring a rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown, and most notably, a kick return touchdown against Connecticut. Coach Stew realized the talent he had in Austin and made him a permanent fixture as a slot receiver his sophomore season. Austin was able to capitalize on quick bubble screens to make plays in the open field. Austin would pull in 787 yards and 8 touchdowns as a sophomore. With Coach Stew out of the picture this past season, Coach Holgorsen would find a variety of ways to get Austin the football. This past season Austin rushed, caught, and returned both punts and kickoffs. Austin quietly had a remarkable receiving season, becoming the fourth WVU receiver to catch more than 1,000 yards in a season (teammate Stedman Bailey also achieved the same fete last year). Austin totaled 1,186 yards receiving, 182 yards rushing, 1,206 yards in kick/punt returns, and 11 total touchdowns. Looking at how Austin has dramatically improved year after year, it would not be surprising for Austin to tally 1,300 yards receiving, 400 yards rushing, and 20 total touchdowns. While Austin will not sneak up on anyone this year, he is too elusive to be contained (averaging over 200 all-purpose yards a game in 2011).
Memorable Game: The game that put Austin on the map nationally and has been the catalyst for his dark horse Heisman talk is the 2012 Orange Bowl victory over Clemson. It was a miracle that the Mountaineers made it to this BCS game after narrowly defeating Cincinnati, South Florida, and Pittsburgh to win the Big East title. Many national pundits made the Clemson Tigers heavy favorites in the match-up. The game was an offensive shoot-out with both defenses looking wholely undeserving of being on the field. WVU’s defense looked slow and Clemson’s defense could not tackle. While WVU’s defense would work out their issues by the second quarter, Clemson’s defense only seemed to implode as the game progressed. Darwin Cook’s 99 yard fumble return touchdown ripped the soul out of the Tigers team and fanbase. Austin would only further embarrass the Tigers. He should have been tackled short of the endzone on three different occasions, but the Clemson defenders just would not wrap up. Dabo Sweeney must not coach tackling. Austin lit up Clemson for 163 total yards and 4 touchdowns. WVU trounced, straight up demolished Clemson from the second quarter on, winning convincingly 70-33. Clemson fans still have nightmares to this day of that game and are always on their toes, waiting to hear that WVU scored yet again.
Competition: Austin will retire as the best all-around offensive talent the Mountaineers have ever had. He literally can do anything with the football (well except for maybe passing). There are a ton of great #1’s in WVU history that are worth mentioning: Damon Codgill, Jerry Porter, Vann Washingotn, Kay Jay Harris, Johnny Holmes, and Grantis Bell.
Teaser: Well folks, that is it. There are no more players to count down. Well, there was one player that wore #00 for one season: Randy Swinson. I could not find much on this player and more importantly, no picture. So with no other player to preview, I leave you with a clip from my all-time favorite movie: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, Secret of the Ooze. This movie was awesome, from the new mutants to the Super Shredder to Vanilla Ice, TMNT II had it all.