Mark Chamberlin, which of these awesome receivers do you like?
Tavon Awesome. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Austin’s all well and good too, but this is more appropriate. Sorry…OK, I’m not, but I should be. I doubt Mr. Austin would be too happy about me not using his real last name, but that really is the only word that comes to mind when he plays.
Percy Harvin when he entered the league, Austin is just…unique. There isn’t another player like him. Writers, scouts and personnel types don’t like that because it’s easier to just fit a prototype into a preconceived role. Comparisons are easy, and comforting, to just point at the gritty, tough, under-sized slot guy and say he’s the next
Wes Welker. It’s a completely different story to look at a specimen like Awesome…I mean, Austin, and say ‘I know there is not another player like him, but he is a star,’ despite that being the only fair way to describe him.
He’s short, by wide receiver standards, and his weight raises the eye brows of personnel executives. However, like Harvin, he is rock solid for a man his size. He never missed a practice, let alone a game while in college because he keeps himself in such top physical condition. Offseason testing shows what a player is capable of, but it does not show what a player is capable of through the rigors of a game, or a season.
Testing didn’t show how ferocious Austin played play-in and play-out, or week to week; only game tape shows this trait. Austin’s game tape showed him playing at 100 percent the entire time. Most football players don’t/can’t/won’t play at this level. They take plays off, or they aren’t sharp because they’re playing nicked up in various games; not Austin. He was the same Week 12 as he was Week 1, and the same in quarter four as he was in quarter two of any of those games. There’s no quantitative way to validate this evaluation, but when you have some spare time research old West Virginia games, and prepare to be amazed.
How will he be utilized at the next level? It’s a work in progress, kind of like Harvin. Hey, maybe I am defaulting to the mode of other writers and needing a comparison! However, he will be successful in whatever method he is utilized. He can make plays behind the line of scrimmage, across the middle of the field, sidelines, deep middle; you name it. No matter how West Virginia deployed him he was successful, although he was at his best late 2012 when they began to feature him as a running back.
What made him so special in this role was that he was still able to make plays down the field, so defenses had to account for him behind the line, on the sideline and downfield. Basically, he was not coverable. The same will hold true in the pros. DeAndre ‘Nuke’ Hopkins is a great player, and will serve his owners well, but Austin is the class of 2013.