Actions Speak Louder Than Words
When one watches Tavon Austin on the football field, the terms gifted, talented and jaw dropping are just some of the words that come to mind. However, if you were to ask Austin about the aptitude that he displays on the football field, you are most likely to receive few words from the extremely soft-spoken Baltimore native.
For Austin, his actions speak louder than words – painting a masterpiece that has earned him the right to win this year’s “Jet Award”.
During his junior season in 2011, Austin led the nation in all-purpose yardage as he averaged 198 yards per game. He was an All-American First Team Return Specialist by CBSSports.com, Phil Steele and named to the third team by the Associated Press. He finished the season with 101 catches, a West Virginia University single-season record and was one of two receivers to have 100 or more catches in Big East history.
Not only did Austin raise the bar during the 2012 season, he proved himself to be the nation’s most versatile player by contributing at inside receiver, running back, punt returner and kick returner.
Austin piled up 2,760 all-purpose yards in 2012, averaging 223.0 per outing. He finished with 72 carries for 643 yards and three touchdowns, 114 receptions for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns. Tavon also returned 15 punts for 165 yards and a touchdown, this while fielding 32 kickoff returns for 813 yards and a score in that department also. In addition, Austin was the first player in school history to score four different ways. Furthermore, he finished his career with the Mountaineers as the program’s career leader in receptions, receiving yards, kick return yards and kick return touchdowns.
Included in that total is Austin’s game against Oklahoma on November 7th, in which he transitioned to running back seamlessly during the week, set a WVU record with 344 rushing yards and accumulated 572 all-purpose yards – the second most in a single game in FBS history. Iowa State coach Paul Rhoades said, “You don’t do that against the University of Oklahoma. You just don’t do that. He’s a very, very special player.”
Due to Austin’s overall excellence on the field during the 2012 season, he earned All-American honors from several authorities. These included such media icons as Sports Illustrated, Associated Press and the American Football Coaches Association. Additionally he received the College Football Performance Award as the 2012 All-Purpose Performer of the Year. He went on to win college football’s most versatile player award and most recently, The Johnny “The Jet Rodgers National College Football Return Specialist Award (The Jet Award).
Although Austin’s feats are impressive, one must consider what he was going through personally to truly understand just how impressive they were. Back home in Baltimore, three of Austin’s close friends were murdered – each gone in a matter of four weeks during the season. Austin knows that he is one of the lucky ones, as he has used his abilities and intelligence to emerge from the streets of Baltimore and into a position where he could find himself as a highly valued NFL prospect in the coming weeks.
But with that type of fame, Austin sees an opportunity – an opportunity that will allow him to save those that may not be as lucky as him. “Hopefully, if I get blessed and go to the NFL, I definitely will try to help out in my community,” he said. “I want to go home and open up a group home and be a father-figure to some boys, because that’s something that I’ve never had in my life.”
Simply put, an action that would allow Austin’s actions to speak louder than his words.
W.A. Reed University of West Virginia Sports Info