Four-star wide receiver Kevin Austin has been a top priority for the Irish for months.
Florida-area recruiter Autry Denson has built a strong relationship with The Opening Finalist, which got Austin and his parents to South Bend on April 22 for the Blue-Gold Game.
During the Austin family’s visit, Brian Kelly, DelVaughn Alexander, Chip Long, Autry Denson and Notre Dame’s academic advisor all spent one-on-one time selling the Notre Dame experience, on the field and off it. That made an impression on the Coconut Creek standout from North Broward Prep.
After Austin announced a top four of Tennessee, Duke, Miami, and Notre Dame on Sunday, the receiver talked to Irish Illustrated for a full breakdown of his decision.
Tennessee was a slight surprise finalist over Michigan State considering Austin’s father grew up in Michigan and played at a Division II school in the state. The Vols even overcame a coaching change at Austin’s position to advance.
“I really enjoyed coach (Zach) Azzanni when he was at Tennessee,” Austin said. “Now that coach (Kevin) Beard is there, he was from my area, he was the one that offered me while he was at Miami. We have a really good relationship.
“I’ve been to Tennessee last summer for a workout and it was really great. I went there with my coach and my dad and my sister. We had a great time over there.”
Duke wasn’t much of a shock inclusion. Austin has consistently mentioned to Irish Illustrated that he wants a strong education. Duke has one of the top football-academics ratios in the country.
“My family and I have had the opportunity to speak with the coaching staff and the players and it seems like a really great environment there,” Austin said. “They really have pride for family atmosphere and, of course, academics.”
Given Miami’s proximity to home, the Hurricanes were a lock to advance too.
“We spoke to the coaching staff and really, they said they need to make Miami more like they were back in the day and that’s why you’ve seen so many commitments in the south Florida region,” Austin said. “A lot of the kids that are committed have been reaching out to me, saying, ‘we should make Miami great again,’ and all these things. I’m really enjoying what they’re saying.”
Notre Dame is considered by many to be the frontrunner for Austin’s commitment.
“We just went to Notre Dame, we spoke to the coaching staff, they have a great academic advisor and academic services there,” Austin said. “Also, they’re going to set me up for my future after if I decide to go to Notre Dame.”
Austin said several Irish commits continue to contact him.
“The main ones are the receivers, Braden Lenzy and Micah Jones,” Austin said. “The running back (Markese Stepp) and the quarterback (Phil Jurkovec).”
Austin doesn’t have a set date pinned down for his final decision.
“I’m really not sure yet,” Austin said. “I’m going to get through the spring and then set a date after that. I’m going to focus mainly on the summer and upcoming season, so I’m not going to be making any visits, except for the one to Oregon for The Opening. After I’ve committed this summer, I’m going to take four official visits to the schools that have made my top four.”