Tavon Austin showed his explosiveness this November when he registered 572 all-purpose yards in a game against Oklahoma, reminding the West Virginia standout of his days at Baltimore’s Dunbar High School.
That game – along with a stellar senior season – attracted the attention of NFL scouts and put Austin on the first-round radar for this April’s draft. While he’s hoping to boost his stock at this week’s NFL Scouting Combine, Austin is also aware that he could be returning home to Baltimore if the Ravens were to take him with pick No. 32.
“I’ve seen a couple of mock drafts that have me going to the Baltimore Ravens, and I think that would be a blessing,” Austin said Friday at the combine. “But I would like to go anywhere that calls my name.”
Austin, 5-foot-8, 174 pounds, is a speedy wide receiver, running back and return man that has drawn comparisons to Minnesota’s Percy Harvin. He projects to be a slot receiver in the NFL, and has proven to be a dangerous playmaker whenever he has the ball in his hands.
And while he’s on the small end of NFL receivers, he’s not lacking in confidence.
“I think I’m the all-around best player in the draft,” Austin said.
The top criticism of Austin is his size, as some have questioned whether his body can withstand the punishment of an NFL season. He would be the smallest player on the Ravens roster by two inches and 15 pounds.
“It definitely shouldn’t be a problem,” Austin said. “I haven’t gotten hurt or missed a game in eight years, so I think my durability should be pretty good.
“I don’t really get tired of [hearing I’m too small], I just take it, put it on my back. I’ve been a little guy my whole life. I’m a little guy, but I play big. I’d like to be two inches taller, but it just ain’t happening.”
What Austin lacks in size, he makes up for in speed. His breakaway speed was apparent throughout the season and in his impressive YouTube highlight reels that have made him a hot name during the pre-draft process.
Austin said that the fastest time he’s clocked in the 40-yard dash is 4.29 seconds, and his goal is to run under 4.4 seconds when he tests at the combine Sunday.
“If we all lined up and raced, I think I’d come out on top,” Austin said when asked if he’s the fastest player in the draft.
Austin also pointed to the way he sees the field as what makes him dangerous.
“Just my vision,” Austin said. “My vision and my quickness. That’s one thing that I use, since I’m not two inches taller, I have to use what I’ve got.”
Austin said that he has a number of interviews scheduled over the next few days at the combine, but didn’t specify whether he’s going to meet with the Ravens. He grew up as a fan of the Ravens and the Patriots, and would relish the opportunity to return to his hometown.
“Baltimore is definitely still home,” Austin said. “It’s always going to be home for me.”
Fellow Baltimore Receiver Could Also Fit
Austin isn’t the only Baltimore product who could find himself returning home.
Virginia Tech wide receiver and Woodlawn High School graduate Corey Fuller is projected to be a mid-to-late round draft pick, who has already interviewed with the Ravens.
“A lot of my friends have actually been calling and texting me and saying, ‘How cool would that be if you come to the Ravens?’” Fuller said. “I can actually see it.”
Fuller, who was also a track star in college, met with the Ravens at the East-West Shrine game. He’s another speedy receiver who is actually training with Austin in Orlando leading up to the draft. Fuller said that his goal is to run under 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
“He runs first, so I’m going to see what he runs, then I’m gonna go get him,” Fuller said.
Fuller hopes that a strong showing at the combine will grab the attention of NFL teams, and possibly put him back in Baltimore with the Ravens.
“To be back at home would mean a lot,” Fuller said. “I can be back there with my mom and dad, some friends that I haven’t really spoken to since college, and I think it would be a good experience.”