Baltimore City native and former Dunbar High School football star Tavon Austin made his hometown shine as he was taken in the top 10 overall in the National Football League (NFL) draft on April 25 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
Austin, who broke the Maryland high school football record for career rushing yards four years ago, wore a maroon suit and tie on draft night, representing the colors of the Dunbar Poets football team. He attended the draft with his mother and grandmother, Cathy and Louann Green, as they watched him selected with the eighth overall pick by the St. Louis Rams.
“It’s a dream come true for me to finally make it here,” Austin said “I’ve wanted to play in the NFL all my life. Now I’m here and I know my city is proud of me.”
At 5-feet, 8-inches, 180 pounds, Austin played running back while at Dunbar, but he was converted into a receiver while playing for the West Virginia University football team. He recorded 288 catches for 3,413 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns, while also rushing for 1,033 yards and six rushing touchdowns during his career at WVU.
“He’s a phenomenal player. I saw him in high school here at Dunbar in Baltimore, and he was outstanding,” Maryland native and ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said before the draft. “He was a man among boys. He’s just tremendously electrifying with great quickness. He’s great kid, very businesslike in his approach, serious about his business.”
The Rams, who lost slot receiver Danny Amendola in free agency to the New England Patriots, needed a replacement for Amendola and traded up to the eighth overall pick to take Austin.
Austin, considered the best receiver in the draft because of his explosive speed and play making ability, may end up being a better receiver than Amendola. The Rams certainly think so as they made Austin the first receiver they’ve drafted in the first round since Torry Holt was taken in the 1999 draft.