By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
11:29 AM EDT, July 2, 2013
When the St. Louis Rams drafted former Dunbar star Tavon Austin in the first round in April, they had visions of resurrecting their old Greatest Show on Turf heydays.
Austin provides an electrifying presence with his 4.34 speed in the 40-yard dash, a 5-foot-9, 174-pound blur scooting around the practice field.
Although the rookie wide receiver and kick returner has yet to play in an actual NFL game, he has already forged a lasting impression with his new teammates.
That includes Rams standout cornerback Janoris Jenkins, whom Austin has challenged in practice sessions this offseason.
"He's pretty fast, he's a dynamic receiver," Jenkins told NFL Network. "Great speed, great hands, great quickness. I think he can be very special. He's just got to work, stay focused and, like I said, just put himself around positive people. But as far as talent-wise, he has it all."
Drafted eighth overall out of West Virginia, Austin signed a $12.751 million contract that included a $7.652 million signing bonus.
Austin had a stellar career at West Virginia. He caught 288 career passes in college for 3,413 yards and 29 touchdowns, also rushing for 1,033 yards and six touchdowns.
Last season, Austin caught 112 passes for 1,289 yards and a dozen touchdowns. He rushed for 643 yards and three touchdowns.
Austin is accustomed to getting off to a fast start after setting Maryland state prep records for career points (790), touchdowns (123), total offensive yards (9,258) and rushing yards (7,962) while winning three consecutive state titles for the Poets.
He was an All-Big East freshman selection, including running back a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown against Connecticut during his first season in Morgantown.
Now Austin has set his ambitions on making an immediate impact in the NFL, where his versatility and athleticism is expected to pay immediate dividends in an all-purpose role.
"There’s a little high expectations for me because I went No. 8, but at the same time when I come up here I just have fun and pretty much try to do always what I do,” Austin told St. Louis reporters. “The No. 1 thing is to come up here and make some plays.”