NEW YORK -- West Virginia has only had nine first-round NFL draft picks.
Never before have back-to-back years produced first-round picks, though that should change tonight when either receiver Tavon Austin or quarterback Geno Smith is called to the famed stage at Radio City Music Hall.
Whether more history is coming remains unknown.
The Mountaineers have never had two players taken in the first round. Since Austin is considered an unquestioned first-round pick, it would seem the fate of a double dose of draft firsts is attached to when Smith is picked during the seven-round, three-day draft that begins at 8 p.m. on ESPN and the NFL Network.
Smith stopped wondering, never mind caring, a while back.
"My expectation is to go early, but if I don't, it's not going to phase me really," he said. "The only thing I can do is wait until a team calls my name. Then, whatever team I go to, I'll go there and try to win the starting job. Once I'm the starter, I'll try to win games and continue to play toward my other goals because I've got the bar set high for myself."
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AUSTIN'S NAME has risen so high and so suddenly on draft boards because of his performance at the draft combine. Even in the presence of abundant game footage, he said he still needed to convince people he was fast and could run routes and catch passes down the field.
At the combine in February, Austin ran the 40-yard dash in 4.25 seconds, which was 0.01 seconds off the record set by Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson. Austin's time was later adjusted to an official 4.34 seconds.
"I think I had a good career, but at the end of the day, I tie all this to the combine," Austin said. "That's when they really got to see me run routes and then when I ran that fast time, I think that's what got me to here.
"I think I had to run the 4.2. A lot of people had me as a 4.4 guy and I knew that was wrong. We just never had a timer on us at West Virginia."
Austin also believes he's in the right place at the right time and ready to step into the NFL as teams evolve to accommodate more spread offenses, feature slot receivers and make the most of fast players who are dangerous in space.
"A couple years ago, my name probably wouldn't be mentioned in the league," he said.
Austin said every team he met with vowed to use the touch pass he and Smith made famous, but he said there are other plans for the player who ran for 344 yards against Oklahoma.
"Every team said that they'd definitely like for me to come in and play running back here and there or on third down," he said.
Austin's versatility on offense and in special teams, when combined with the speed from the combine and the elusiveness on film, has propelled him toward the top of the first round.
"Pretty much what they say is when they look at me, they see a special player," Austin said. "They always tell me you can't coach what I do."