Austin with the St. Louis Rams in 2013
|No. 11 Los Angeles Rams|
|Date of birth:||March 15, 1991|
|Place of birth:||Baltimore, Maryland|
|Height:||5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)|
|Weight:||176 lb (80 kg)|
|High school:||Baltimore (MD) Dunbar|
|NFL Draft:||2013 / Round: 1 / Pick: 8|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2016|
Tavon Wesley Austin (born March 15, 1991) is an American football wide receiver and punt returner for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL). He was widely considered one of the top prospects at his position, and was drafted by the Rams in the first round (eighth overall) in the 2013 NFL Draft. He played college football at West Virginia and received All-American honors twice.
Austin attended Dunbar High School in Baltimore, Maryland, where he played football, basketball, and ran track. In football, he played running back, leading Dunbar High to three consecutive Class 1A state titles. As a senior, he had 2,660 yards rushing on 218 carries with 34 touchdowns, while also returning 12 punts for 446 yards and two scores. He was a Two-time Maryland Consensus Offensive Player of the Year and Consensus first team All-state. He set state records for career points (790), touchdowns (123), total offensive yards (9,258) and rushing yards (7,962). In track & field, Austin competed as a sprinter and jumper. He ran a career-best time of 11.47 seconds in the 100 meters at the 2009 1A North Region Meet. He was also a member of the Dunbar 400m relay squad.
Austin enrolled in West Virginia University, where he played for the West Virginia Mountaineers football team from 2009 to 2012. He was converted into a wide receiver as a freshman in 2009. During his freshman season, he had 15 receptions for 151 yards with a touchdown and also rushed for 47 yards on six carries with a touchdown and scored a touchdown on a kick return. As a sophomore in 2010, he had 58 receptions for 787 yards and a team leading eight touchdowns. He also had 15 rushing attempts for 159 yards and a touchdown.
As a junior in 2011, Austin had 100 receptions for 1,180 yards and eight touchdowns. He added 189 rushing yards on 18 carries and another touchdown. He also returned two kicks for touchdowns. He was named a first team All-American by CBS. During the Mountaineers 70-33 win in the 2012 Orange Bowl, he set an Orange Bowl record with four touchdown receptions. He was the 2012 All-Purpose Performer of the Year as announced by the College Football Performance Awards association.
Regular and postseason
|WVU receiving stats|
Regular and postseason
|WVU rushing stats|
Regular and postseason
|WVU return stats|
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40-yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert||Broad||BP|
|5 ft 8 in||174 lb||30 in||9 1/8 in||4.34 s||1.50 s||2.49 s||4.01 s||32 in||10 ft 0 in||14 reps|
|All values from NFL combine|
Austin was selected by the St. Louis Rams with the 8th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. The Rams traded up from pick 16 with the Buffalo Bills in order to select Austin. The Rams also selected former West Virginia wide receiver Stedman Bailey later in the third round of the draft with the 92nd overall pick, reuniting the teammates in the NFL.
On June 13, 2013, Austin signed a four-year, $12.751 million contract. The deal included a $7.653 million signing bonus. During his first year in the NFL, Austin played 13 games with 151 rushing yards (on 9 carries), 418 receiving yards, and 678 return yards on 51 combined return opportunities during kick and punt returns.
During Week 10, in a game at the Indianapolis Colts, Austin had a breakout performance that ended up being the best of his rookie campaign. In a 38–8 rout, Austin only had two receptions, but they totaled 138 receiving yards and were both touchdowns. He also ran the ball once for four yards. Austin also returned five kicks and punts for a total of 172 yards, including a 98-yard punt return touchdown. Austin was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, and eventually became the NFC's Special Teams Player of the Month as well.
Austin's 98-yard punt return touchdown was widely considered to be one of the best plays of the 2013 season, as it checked in at #31 on the NFL's Top 100 Plays of 2013 list.
Austin's receiving yards in the 2014 season dropped down to 242 yards from his 418 yards in 2013. Austin continued to excel as a returner as he was named a Pro Bowl alternate as a returner behind Devin Hester and Darren Sproles. His 391 punt return yards ranked 3rd in the NFL in 2014—only behind DeAnthony Thomas of the Kansas City Chiefs and Sproles.
Similarly to his 98-yard punt return during his rookie season, Austin was part of another huge special teams play during the 2014 season as well. During the second quarter of a Week 7 game vs. the division rival Seattle Seahawks, a game in which the Rams were already up 14–3, Austin was the designated punt return man on a play. He acted as if he was calling for a fair catch, but the ball had actually been punted to the opposite side of the field, where teammate Stedman Bailey was preparing to return the punt. With the entire Seattle coverage team focused on Austin, Bailey was left with a wide-open field and returned the punt 90 yards for a touchdown. The Rams went on defeat their NFC West rivals 28–26.
Austin had arguably his best season in 2015. He posted career highs in receptions (52), receiving yards (473), and receiving touchdowns (5). Austin further proved to be a dynamic player on offense as he ran the ball 52 times for 434 yards and four touchdowns. After a Thursday Night Football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Austin became the first player to score at least five receiving touchdowns, four rushing touchdowns, and a punt return touchdown in a single season since Gale Sayers did so for the Chicago Bears in 1965.
On May 12, 2016, the Los Angeles Rams picked up Austin's fifth-year option along with fellow Rams teammate and linebacker Alec Ogletree. On August 27, 2016, the Rams and Austin agreed to a four-year, $42 million contract extension. Austin finished the disappointing 4-12 season with 58 catches for 509 yards and 3 touchdowns, but on 107 targets (8.8 yards per catch, 4.8 yards per target). Despite having his first year with over 500 receiving yards, Austin's rushing total of 159 yards and 1 touchdown on 28 rushes (5.7 yards per carry, a career low for Austin) signaled a drop in his overall production from the previous season. He also failed to return a punt for a touchdown, something he had accomplished every year prior, and tied a career high for fumbles with 5. Through four years as a Ram, Austin has only one game of at least 100 yards receiving, and only five games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage.
- Tavon Austin zooms to the top
- Tavon Austin earning All-America honors
- West Virginia makes history in Orange Bowl rout of Clemson
- Wagoner, Nick (May 2, 2016). "Rams pick up fifth-year options on Tavon Austin, Alec Ogletree". ESPN.com. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
- Orr, Conor (August 27, 2016). "Tavon Austin signs 4-year, $42M extension with Rams". NFL.com. Retrieved November 26, 2016.