Film Don't Lie: Kevin Austin

August 11, 2017
4,992

I have attended The Opening Finals the last four years and I have watched 17 recruits who eventually signed with Notre Dame and another 8 this year who are committed to the Irish. Out of those 25 kids, only about 5 did well enough for them to be considered the elite of the elite that week. Kevin Austin is one them.

He proved that he is one of the best wide receivers in the nation in the class of 2018. I saw him dominate a 7 on 7 game against a team that had Anthony Cook (16th in the ISD Fab 50), Texas commit Jalen Green (22nd), and Ohio State commit Sevyn Banks (4 star, grade of 92). None of those three stud corners could cover him one on one. He continued to make plays no matter who was matched up with him.

I already liked him quite a bit as a prospect, but that game and the rest of the time I watched him back in July showed me he could elevate his game to a different level. When his team needed a play, he was the target his quarterbacks were looking for. I think it can be much of the same at the college level with Austin, who also showed how special he can be as a football player during his junior season.

Here's a look at some of what Austin brings to the table and why I think he has the potential to be a number one receiver for the Irish during his college career.

Height: 6'3"

Weight: 198

Projected Position: Wide Receiver (Could play X of W)

ISD Grade: 94

National Average Grade: 93.8

What he does best:


Seeing Austin in person, he definitely looks the part in terms of his size. He's got room to get bigger too and I wouldn't be surprised to see him play around 215 in college. I think one of the best parts about his game is that he is big and plays big.

Yes, wide receiver is a skill position, but there is so much clutching, grabbing, and jamming at the line that people tend to forget that fighting through contact is an important skill to have. Some receivers get thrown off by physical corners, but not Austin.

Here you see him fight through a jam at the line of scrimmage and continue to work down the field before going up to high point the ball over the corner for a touchdown. Six points only happens if he is strong enough to fight through this.

via GIPHY

Here again you not only see him fight through the jam, but use his hands to push off and gain separation at the catch point. Some might call this a penalty, but it's part of the game. When the ball is in the air, receivers and defensive backs need to fight to gain an edge and there is always contact going on. Austin is better at dealing with it and using it to his advantage than most.

via GIPHY

That physical part of his game is also prevalent after the catch. He has some running back skills in terms when he gets the ball in his hands and can be a tackle breaker. Here it looks like he is dead to rights in traffic after catching this ball as a wing back, but he makes the first guy miss and then is able to switch gears to run away from the other defenders.

via GIPHY

On a few occasions he flashed a pretty nasty stiff arm as well. Smaller corners are going to have a tough time tackling him in the open field.

Big is one thing and physical is another, but there are plenty of big and physical receivers that can fill a role, but are limited overall because they don't have the rest of the traits to go with it. I see some of those traits from Austin the help him separate from corners. His feet are really good and his burst out of his breaks also stands out.

I loved the footwork here that set up the corner opening up one way and Austin coming back inside with quick feet to win on the slant. He gets bonus points for adjusting to a poorly thrown ball too. His feet, ability to adjust to the football, and overall catch radius is impressive.

via GIPHY

Like most great receivers, Austin believes that the ball belongs to him when it's thrown up for grabs. He is going to snatch it away from defenders like he did on this play where the play-call might as well have been "Throw it deep to Austin, on one" with no other second read.

via GIPHY

I wanted to show another clip of him getting deep, but couldn't find the right one to demonstrate why he can be utilized there without being a true burner. He's no Braden Lenzy when it comes to raw speed, but Austin understands how to set corners up and switch gears. I don't know if he can beat a player like Cook in a straight up race, but he was able to get behind him at The Opening because Austin manipulated Cook with his route.

That's advanced stuff for a receiver his age and this wasn't just a one on one where players run unrealistic quadruple moves. This was in a 7on game where the ball had to get out by a certain time. It was a big time play and one I wish I had a clip of to show just how impressive it was to watch.

What he needs to work on:


I think Austin has really good hands and he catches the ball naturally away from his body. In saying that, I saw a couple of concentration drops from him that he should have had. It might be picking nits, but he can be more consistent there.

I think the biggest thing he needs to work on is consistency with his his route running. He has all the tools to be a terrific route runner and has showed that in camps like he did at The Opening Miami regional.

The feet and his ability to drop his hips here is not something I see enough from guys his size. I don't see enough of it on film from his games, but saw more of it when watching him in person. It just needs to be more of an all the time thing.

via GIPHY

I think it's especially important because he is never going to be a 4.4 40 type of guy. He is a very good athlete, but won't win on athleticism alone. I think he understands that and will eventually develop into an elite route runner.

What's his ceiling?


I do think Austin can be a number one receiver for the Irish one day. I would be surprised if he wasn't a high end number two and his ceiling is to be a go-to option as a number one whether it's at X or W.

I don't know if he'll be a true game-breaker at the next level, but he can fill in the gaps in every other area. I love what he can do after the catch, I'm a big fan of his potential as a route runner, and most importantly, I think he is going to thrive while others will struggle versus physical corners.

It would not at all be a shock to see him catch 80 balls in season at Notre Dame at some point or to see him jump immediately in the mix for playing time next season. The Irish landed one of the top ten receivers in the class with Austin and Irish fans should be very excited about the pickup.


×
Verify your student status
See Membership Benefits >