Player Spotlight: Tavon Austin


Speed, explosiveness, elusiveness, electric, fast twitch. These are all the things junior Tavon Austin has been called during his stort time at WVU. When you think of how good Tavon was in high school, you can’t help but think of  how different things might be.

Austin was a five-star prospect by many recruiting outlets when he was at Dunbar High School. In his high school career he was named the Baltimore Sun Player of the Year three times and has four major state records including: most career points (790), touchdowns (123), total offensive yards (9,258) and most rushing yards (7,962).

Back home in Baltimore, everyone wants to be like Tavon, says teammate and Baltimore native Terence Garvin.

“Everybody loves Tavon back at home,” said Garvin. “Everyone wants to be like Tavon.”

“People know Tavon back at home, continued Garvin. Like Dunbar football, they’ve got real popular now. They got a lot more kids that wanted to go to Dunbar after that year he did good…They want to follow successful people, that’s always how it is and it’s always how it will be.”

He’s playing out of position, and has been since he arrived in Morgantown two years ago. He was moved to the inside receiver position with the backfield locked down by Noel Devine.

Tavon had a nice freshmen season that landed him on the All-Big East freshman team by ESPN, No. 4 in the Big East in kickoff return average and No. 35 nationally. Most remember his 98 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, seventh longest kickoff return in school history against UCONN.

Last season, he was second on the team with 58 receptions for a team leading 787 yards. He also led the team in receiving touchdowns with 8. Tavon was No. 4 in the Big East in receptions, and named first team All-Big East by and second team by the Big East coaches.

Tavon wants more, and he’s been working to get better, and make others around him better.

“My first year was kind of hard because it was a transition from high school. My second year was ok,” Austin went on, “ but this year, it is to the point that you are just ready to stop right now. I have gotten a whole lot stronger and faster, and I am just ready to get the season on.””

Not only was his transition hard then, summer workouts have been brutal leading into this season. Sounds like the guys have become friends with The Hill, Law School Hill.

“We had to run Law School Hill every Friday in the whole month of June,” Austin said. “We have never done that before, so that was a big difference this summer.”

Austin was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list, an honor that goes to the nation’s wide receiver. You might think the pressure could get to some, not Tavon, he uses it as motivation.

“I don’t really check into stuff like that,” Austin said. “ I am just thankful that my name is in there, and I am going to work really hard for it, and hopefully, I can come out on top.”

Last season under then head coach Bill Stewart, there was discussion that Austin may be moved to running back with the graduation of Noel Devine. Who could blame them after the 46 yard touchdown burst at home against Rutgers. With a new offense on the way and the opportunities it brings, he was sold on pass catching.

“Coach Holgorsen said he’d throw the ball 60, 70 times a game,” Austin said. “That was one thing I liked. Then I saw his wide receivers and every time they caught the ball they had a lot of space. I like to get into space when I catch the ball.”

Austin is well aware of the expectations placed on the Mountaineers this season, picked first in the Big East.

“We’ve got a good chance. Right now we’ve got a good offensive coordinator and a good team coming back, so we just have to prove it to ourselves. If everyone goes out there and does their part, we should come out on top.”

Tavon is doing his part in more ways than one. It seem’s he has become more of a pied piper working hard to bring Baltimore talent to Morgantown. Just this summer, the Mountaineers have seen three  players commit to the 2012 recruiting class in cornerback Da’Quan Davis, receiver Deontay McManus, and athlete Trevor Williams.

The 2011-12 season has the West Virginia Mountaineers thinking about a Big East Championship along with being a dark horse national championship contender. If big expectations translate into reality for the Mountaineers this season, expect to see Tavon Austin square in the middle of it all.  His abilities should not only translate to more appearances in the endzone, but frequent visits into the nightmares of defensive coordinators on the Mountaineers schedule.