UT Covets FX Artist

It's highly doubtful Tennessee will recruit any prospect this season who is either smaller or more spectacular than Tavon Austin of Baltimore, Md., a 5-foot-8, 170-pound running back with sprinter's speed and moves that appear to have come straight from a Hollywood special effects department.

Quick, explosive and surprisingly powerful in the mode of former New York Giant running back Joe Morris, Tavon Austin is a five-star prospect ranked No. 4 at his position nationally by Scout.com.

As a junior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, he rushed for over 2.500 yards and a mind boggling 40 touchdowns to lead Dunbar to it's second consecutive state championship. Elusive as he is productive, Austin also picked up back-to-back Player of the Year honors from the Baltimore Sun. In his first three seasons of high school football Austin climbed to the top of the high school record books for the most career touchdowns ever scored in the state of Maryland.

What he lacks in size Austin makes up for with speed, vision and ball skills. He runs a 4.47 time in the 40 and is an effective pass receiver out of the backfield or lined up in the slot.

As accomplished as he is, Austin didn't break onto the national scene until a standout performance at the New Level Athletics Passing Camp in Akron, last spring where his team won the championship. Scout.com analyst Bob Lichtenfels saw Austin play in the passing tournament as well as seeing him play several other times and offer the following summation of the cat-quick scatback.

"Trying to tackle Austin is like catching a rabbit in a cornfield. He has a tremendous ability to shift gears and accelerate in the open field. He is a great cutback runner, because of his shiftiness and vision. He plays bigger than he is and is not afraid to lower his shoulder and run between the tackles and put his body on the line in pass pro. He is an exceptional receiver out of the backfield and can even line up in the slot."

Tennessee would love to slot Austin into its version of the west coast offense, as would most colleges in the country. As the offers have come pouring in he has taken a wait and see approach. However he has paid visits to area colleges like West Virginia, Maryland and Penn State. "I don't have any top schools right now," Austin told Scout.com analyst Matt Alkire. "I like West Virginia a lot, but I haven't visited a lot of the other schools that have offered me and I want to make sure I go out and do that. I don't want to limit myself to a few schools when I could get out to one of these other programs and end up really feeling at home there." Among the colleges that have extended offers to Austin are Michigan, West Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Penn State, North Carolina, Syracuse, South Carolina,Georgia, North Carolina, Rugters, Nebraska and Tennessee.

Austin has expressed an interest in playing in the SEC and the Vols hope to secure one of his official visits.

"I'm really not sure yet," Austin told Alkire of his visit plans. "I'd like to visit South Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan, Illinois and Georgia. Those are the schools that are showing me the most interest right now. Distance isn't a factor to me, I just want to feel comfortable. Georgia is one school that I do plan to visit, but they want me to play at wide receiver which I'm not sure on. They're a great SEC program though, so I'd like to go down there and see exactly how they plan to use me and if I could get into the backfield there. As far as Illinois goes they're pretty stacked with young depth in the backfield, so I have to look into that a little bit more."

Austin could probably become a top notch cornerback, but with his greatest value is as a play-maker which means he'll get plenty of touches wherever he signs.


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