Recruiting Tavon Austin: This is the first in a series of occasional articles in which Dunbar football standout Tavon Austin takes readers through the recruiting process in his own words, as told to Sun reporter Stefen Lovelace. Austin, a junior running back-defensive back and two-time Sun Offensive Player of the Year, is being recruited heavily by a number of major Division I programs. For the series, Lovelace also consulted with Austin's mother, Cathy Green; his football coach, Lawrence Smith; and his cousin, Aaron Thompson.
School. Track. Junior Days. Spring games. SATs. Official visits. Summer workouts. The start of the 2008 football season. Narrowing the list of colleges to five. Going for another state football championship. Making a college choice.
Over the next 10 months, that's my schedule. Go to school and track practice five days a week. I've been visiting some schools for their Junior Days - which is when colleges invite some of the top junior football players in the country. I try to ask them as many questions about their school as possible.
So far, I've taken Junior Day visits to Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers and West Virginia. Dunbar football coach Lawrence Smith said that those schools and Michigan, South Carolina, Nebraska, Illinois, Syracuse, Boston College, Virginia and Wake Forest have all made scholarship offers.
A lot of schools want me to go to their spring games this month, but I haven't decided which ones I'll go to yet. I'll also be training - doing the same type of speed and explosion drills that I've always done - but I'm focusing on putting on more muscle, so I'll be hitting the weights a little harder. (Editor's note: Austin is 5 feet 9, 160 pounds).
I've been taking SAT prep courses since last season, and I finally take the test in May. In the summer, I'll be going on official visits with my mother, Cathy Green. She, Coach Smith and my cousin Aaron Thompson are all helping me with the decision.
My mother told me that she wants me go to where I fit in and feel comfortable. She wants to make sure I have people I can go to if anything happens and who care about my education and don't just use me for football. She wants me to get a degree and an education using football. Talking to Aaron helps, too.
He is a Mount St. Joseph graduate who played linebacker at Maryland on a football scholarship from 1997 to 2001. He told me that "the name of the school alone doesn't make it right for you. The hype, the history of the school, how many wins they had last year, all of those things play a factor, but the main question is: How do I fit in? How can this school make me better than who I am today?"
Coach Smith fields calls from college coaches and helps me sort out what schools are interested and what schools I should visit.
He said he has "received calls from USC, Cal, UCLA, Texas, Texas A&M, Nebraska ... you name it. Kansas, Kansas State, Florida, Miami, Florida State ... every college in the country has called and plans on stopping by here in May to basically see what's going on."
This next year will be busy, but at least my teammates are going through the recruiting process with me. After watching my game film, college coaches are starting to see how much overall talent we have on our team.
With the help from my mother, Aaron and Coach Smith, I'll try to narrow my choices down to five schools by the start of the 2008 season. I'd like to have an idea of where I want to go as early as possible, so when the season starts, I can concentrate on one thing: