When Tavon Austin had his hands on the football, good things usually happened for the West Virginia University football team.
In four years at West Virginia, Austin caught 288 passes for 3,413 yards and 29 touchdowns. That means that more than 10 percent of the time Austin caught a pass, he reached the end zone.
“He’s unbelievable,” ESPN Draft Analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., said. “The kid is a touchdown-maker and a scoreboard-changer in a variety of ways. You could get him the ball in terms of a running game. You can get him the ball on reverses, on wide-receiver screens just to get him in space, the return game. He is dynamic.”
After catching 114 passes for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns in his final collegiate season, the 5-foot-8, 174-pound Austin was the NFL Scouting Combine’s top performer with a time of 4.34 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He also clocked 4.01 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle run.
Long before his performances on the field and at the Combine, Austin was making a reputation as a playmaker. The Baltimore native led Dunbar High School to three straight Class 1A state championships, was a two-time Maryland Offensive Player of the Year and the state record-holder with 790 points scored, 123 touchdowns, 9,258 total yards, and 7,962 rushing yards.
“I think he’s a phenomenal player,” Kiper said. “I saw him in high school at Dunbar here in Baltimore, and he was outstanding. He was a man among boys. He’s just tremendously electrifying, great quickness. He’s 5-81/2, 5-9, and to try and get a hand on him is the first thing you have to do to corral him.
“He’s a great kid, very business-like in his approach, is serious about his business. You think about the slot receivers, guys like (Wes) Welker, (Danny) Amendola and Davone Bess, they all went undrafted. This kid is going to be drafted in the top 16.
“The furthest I could see him getting is 23 to Minnesota. I think Tavon’s going to have a heck of a career. He’s just an electrifying, dynamic player. In the era we’re in, in the NFL, his skill set translates and transitions tremendously well. Twenty years ago, it may have been a different story. He’s a guaranteed first-round draft choice.”