Tracking Tavon Austin

The recruitment of Baltimore Dunbar star running back Tavon Austin has been, and will continue to be, fiercely competitive. Austin, a five-star recruit ranked the No. 44 player in the nation, has a bevy of offers with more sure to come. He's been a fixture at Maryland this summer, where the staff has made him a top priority. has the latest …

Austin has made several recent visits to Maryland as well as a trip to West Virginia. Though he's not claming any favorites, it certainly seems feasible that the Terps and Moutaineers, each of whom has seemingly drawn more attention from the No. 7 running back in the nation than the rest of the field, might be grappling for the top right now.

With Maryland, Austin likes the idea of playing at home and has formed a strong relationship with some of the players as well as offensive coordinator James Franklin, who recruits Baltimore for the Terps.

"As far as Maryland, I like Maryland a lot. I like the coaches and the players," said the dynamic 5-foot-8, 160-pound speedster. "Just [Franklin's] personality. He's just open-minded and I can always open up to him about school or football or whatever.

"Every time I go to Maryland I talk to Coach [Ralph] Friedgen. First he'll talk about football but he also talks a lot about school and life and other things," he continued. "I could definitely see myself playing there."

He's also long-time friends with Terps wide receiver LaQuan Williams.

"I talk to ‘Quan, like, every week. He just tells me Maryland is a good place to be and he hopes I'll come there and be on his team, but he says don't let it all stress me out too much," Austin said.

He also said he could see himself at West Virginia, where he recently spent three days and said he enjoyed himself. His Dunbar team traveled to Morgantown for a 7-on-7 tournament, which it won, and then Austin spent another day with the coaches.

"West Virginia's got a different offense. They've got the spread," he said. "I really like the coaches at West Virginia but I also like coach Franklin at Maryland."

The system he'll play in is a major factor for Austin, an undersized but amazing playmaker who rushed for more than 2,500 yards and 40 touchdowns as a junior, leading his team to its second consecutive state championship and moving into first place on the state's all-time touchdown list. He runs a 4.47-second 40-yard dash and has rarely seen elusiveness.

While the spread has obvious appeal to him, he also has sat down with Franklin and listened to the coach explain how he would best exploit Austin's abilities. He also said he's trying to determine which recruiters are genuine and which ones are "fake," that location isn't a huge issue and that he'd like to announce his decision at an All-American game after his senior season.

Though Austin seems most familiar with a few schools, he said he's still open to everyone recruiting him. He also has offers from Georgia, Tennessee, Pitt, Syracuse, Rutgers, Michigan, North Carolina, Penn State, South Carolina and Illinois. Among those, he said he'd like to make unofficial visits this summer to South Carolina, Georgia, Michigan and Illinois.

He's been to Penn State twice as well, he said.

"Penn State has a different kind of offense, a power offense," he said.

Austin's cousin, former Marylnd linebacker Aaron Thompson, is helping to guide him through the process.

"He always tells me [Maryland] is a great place but he doesn't pressure me one way or another. He tells me to look at the schools and the kind of offense they run and find the best fit for me," he said.

It'll seemingly be a while before Austin decides where that fit it, but it's safe to say the Terps are certainly in the mix.

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