VIENNA-West Virginia University senior inside receiver Tavon Austin isn't about to let talk of a possible Heisman Trophy nomination stop him, or his Mountaineer teammates, from preparing for their first season in the Big 12.
"I think we (Austin and senior quarterback Geno Smith) should both be in there," explained Austin. "But, at the same time, we have to leave that kind of talk up to what other people say."
Austin and 17 of his WVU teammates were in the Mid-Ohio Valley on Thursday to participate in the 16th annual Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg's Steak & Burger Dinner at the Grand Pointe Conference and Reception Center.
Photo courtesy of West Virginia University
West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin is ready to see action in the Big 12 this year. Austin had 101 catches for 1,186 yards in 2011.
"Hopefully, the way we are going to move the football, both of our names will be in the mix," added the Big East's Special Teams Player of the Year.
The Baltimore native is coming off of one of the most electrifying performances ever at the Discover Orange Bowl as the 176-pounder rushed three times for 40 yards and caught 12 passes for 123 yards and touchdowns of 8, 27, 3 and 37 yards to lead the old gold and blue to a convincing 70-33 win over a heavily-favored Clemson squad.
"I had a good season my sophomore year, so I knew that, with Coach Holgorsen coming in and the numbers his offenses had put up, that I had the chance to have a big year," Austin said. "I thought I was going to be in a position to do the same thing, so I just came in and worked hard and it definitely worked out for me."
Worked out is right.
Austin finished his third campaign in Morgantown with 101 catches for 1,186 yards (11.7 ypc) and eight touchdowns, 16 rushes for 182 yards (11.4 ypc) and one touchdown, 36 kickoff returns for 938 yards (26.1) and two touchdowns and 19 punt returns for 268 yards (14.1).
"The coaches did a great job of putting me in a position to have a good year. My teammates did a great job of blocking for me and getting me the ball in positions where I could do something.
"The biggest thing I had to do was make sure that when I had the chance to do something, I did."
But, so did Smith, who earned MVP honors at the Orange Bowl after completing 32-of-43 attempts for a record 407 yards and six touchdowns. In the Florida native's second season under center, he completed 346-of-526 attempts for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns with only seven interceptions.
Numbers that earned Smith first-team All-Big East quarterback, but not Offensive Player of the Year honors-those went to Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead.
"Geno is a great quarterback, a great teammate," said Austin. "He works hard every day in practice, just like the rest of us, and it shows on game day."
Game days that very well might see the Mountaineers making trips to sites in the Big 12.
"There is definitely a lot of excitement around the stadium," Austin said. "In fact, there is a lot of excitement around the whole state. It's going to be a challenge for us. People are always telling us that we can't do it.
"So, once again, we get ourselves another challenge and hopefully we can once again win it."
After the performance Austin and his teammates put on in Miami, one would be wise not to beat against them. WVU opens spring drills on Sunday, March 11, and will hold 15 practices, including the annual Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday, April 21.
Pro timing day will be held on Friday, March 16. Former Parkersburg South standout Cody Nutter will among the seniors participating in the workouts. The senior has been the long snapper for the Mountaineers for the past three seasons.