August 17, 2010

Terrence Austin: No Stranger To Stardom

Growing up in Southern California and attending Long Beach Poly high school, Terrence Austin is no stranger to stardom. After all, he played wide receiver opposite current Philadelphia Eagles star wide out DeSean Jackson.

So what was it like for the offense; having two future NFL speedsters on each side of the field?

"It was really terrible for the other team to be honest with you," said Austin with a grin. "I tried to learn from him, you know? Whatever he did, I tried to emulate it because he was successful."

Success is the name of the game for Long Beach Poly grads. Rapper Snoop Dogg attended the school as did actress Cameron Diaz. Ever heard of them?

The star-studded lineup coming out of Long Beach Poly is a tough one to live up to, but if anyone is ready for the task, it's Austin.

After high school, Austin entered UCLA, opting to remain in his native state to play football with the Bruins. After four solid years, Austin graduated UCLA at number two on the program's all-time, all-purpose yardage list with 4,425 yards, and also set marks for the most kick and punt returns by a single player in school history.

Austin started at wide receiver his senior year, catching 37 passes for 455 yards and four touchdowns. He caught at least one pass in his last 27 collegiate football games and was named UCLA's MVP on offense in 2008 after breaking Maurice Jones-Drew's single season all-purpose yards record.

Austin's total receiving numbers in college are to the tune of 109 receptions for 1,192 yards and five TDs in  48 games. He returned 95 punts for 942 yards, a 9.9 average. Also, don't forget the 89 kick-off returns for 2,145 yards.

As busy as Austin was on the football field, he still managed to snag his degree in history at UCLA before moving over to the east coast to play football with the Redskins.

Washington selected him in the seventh round of this year's draft, hoping he could provide a boost in a return game that has suffered greatly since the departure of Brian Mitchell in 2000.

However, Austin has made it clear in training camp that he can be more than just a return man. He has performed at a high level playing receiver in camp. His speed, hands, and fearless attitude over the middle has turned heads, but Austin knows he hasn't arrived yet.

Last week at camp served as a reminder to that as the elder statesman of the receiving corps, Joey Galloway, forced him to carry his pads after practice, but Austin took it in stride.

"I'm cool with these guys; I like them," he said. I'm going to do whatever is possible to try to keep face with everybody."

He must be doing a pretty good job of it because fellow receiver Bobby Wade has liked what he's seen from Austin thus far.

"He has a lot of strengths, he has a lot of upside," said Wade. "He's a guy who is gonna definitely be able to, I think, excel in this league. It's [just] going to come down to doing the little things and just getting as comfortable as possible within our offense."

The best way to "get comfortable?"

"Study. Be ready for anything," said receivers coach Keenan McCardell. "Don't play like a robot. You gotta react to things sometimes. This is the National Football League anything can happen. You're up here competing at the highest level; you're up here for a reason; now just show your talent."

Talent is something Austin has in spades. Attention to detail has never been a problem either. Austin might run some of the best routes on the team and he takes pride in being precise and methodical when practicing his craft. For a guy who weighs just 172 pounds, it's important to get creative when it comes to getting separation from a defender.

"That's been something I've been working on for a long time," he said. "I knew that if I wanted to be good, I had to be sudden and really quick in and out of my breaks. So I worked on that a whole lot. I did that a lot within college and high school, and that was just the main thing. We always had to catch the ball, but I mean we definitely wanted to get separation, and so that's what I worked on the most."

Preparation is what will set Austin apart from the competition as he already possesses the skills to make an impact. He desperately wants to succeed and relishes the competition currently at wide receiver for the Redskins.

Washington will have no more than six receiver spots available on the final roster, and there are 11 players vying for them. But Austin is confident in his abilities.

"[Competition] won't do anything but make us better," Austin said. "I like it. It keeps me on my game everyday. It let's me know like, 'hey you know if you want to be able to be in this spot you gotta compete with this guy. You know you can't be making too many mistakes because this guy behind you is gonna gain or the guy ahead of you is gonna separate. So that's what it's like everyday."

To his credit, Austin realizes he may have to make his mark on special teams and in the return game to break into the NFL. And he's alright with serving in that role.

A jack-of-all-trades mentality is a good one to have in Austin's case as his skill set will certainly benefit him in his efforts to solidify a spot in the NFL. He knows a dedicated approach to every aspect of the game will ensure he's primed to play a long time in the NFL and experience success throughout his career.

He has no choice but success anyway, right? What would Snoop say if a Long Beach Poly grad failed to go platinum?

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