He led the Dunbar Poets to three straight Class 1A state titles and set career records for rushing yards (7,962), total offensive yards (9,258), touchdowns (123) and points (790).
Austin has noticeably larger arms and has gained 17 pounds to 173 as preparation for the battles at the line of scrimmage. He hasn't run a timed 40-yard dash since his senior year at Dunbar when he turned in a 4.47, but he figures he's in the low 4.4s. He recently had a 35.5-inch vertical leap, which helps him play a few inches taller.
Put together, it helps the Mountaineers.
The football may find Sanders the most and Devine may find the end zone more than anyone else, but Austin is still the most elusive player. WVU has designs to line him up outside and throw to him on screens and on deep passes.
The future at tailback, his past at that position cannot be forgotten. The skill he shows after he gets the ball is what he uses to set up the reception. If Austin can't get open, he can't catch and run.
"If I was 4 inches taller, I would say I want to play wide receiver because with the same speed and the same talent I've got now, I think I'd be a very good player," he said. "At the same time, I've got the same speed and talent now to be good at it."
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SO CONCERNED are the Mountaineers with depth at receiver, and particularly the outside spots, that rising senior cornerback Eddie Davis was asked to play there.
Davis, a 6-foot, 188-pound native of Tampa, Fla., came to WVU as a running back and had 65 yards on 15 carries in his first college game in 2007, but also suffered a foot injury in the game that ended his season. He ended up taking a medical redshirt and played wide receiver the following season.
"He runs," Offensive Coordinator Jeff Mullen said following Tuesday's practice. "Fast Eddie definitely can take the top off a coverage. I noticed that immediately. He brings an instinct that helps on that side of the ball, which helps because clearly we don't have a lot of options there."
When the new coaching staff took over prior to the start of the 2008 season, Davis was asked to move to cornerback to address depth worries there. He played in 17 games the past two seasons, including all 13 last season when he was a backup and a key special teams player. Davis finished with eight tackles.
"It's the best thing for the team," said cornerbacks coach David Lockwood, who only has seven cornerbacks now for spring practice. "He started over there, so it wasn't like something totally new for him. You look at our guys (cornerbacks) when you look at guys who have a chance (on offense). Eddie's one of best the best athletes on our football team and one of our fastest guys and we're fortunate enough he gives us a luxury to try him here and there."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.