Elite wide receiver Kevin Austin became the 16th Notre Dame commit of the 2018 cycle when he announced for the Irish today. Austin has steadily climbed in the national rankings since the Irish offered almost a year ago; the 6’3″, 198-pound athlete stands out due to plus ability in multiple categories and the ease with which he does things. Austin is also very serious about academics, which is why Notre Dame and Duke were prominent in his recruitment; Miami also made a strong push for the North Broward Prep product, but Austin ultimately decided that Notre Dame had the ideal mix of football and school.
Autry Denson and Del Alexander deserve kudos for this commitment as both did a great job of connecting with Austin. Even so, we should note here that Austin has been very candid about taking all his official visits. He has a very businesslike approach to his game and his recruitment, and he wants to make sure that he has a full picture of all his options in case any new information appears down the road. Like, for example, staff changes. You can’t blame the kid, and if anything it shows commendable maturity in a stressful process.
Recruiting Service Rankings
247 Composite — 4 star (.9522), #109 overall, #23 WR, #24 in FL
247 Sports — 4 star (93 rating), #118 overall, #20 WR, #16 in FL
Rivals — 4 star (5.9 rating), #141 overall, #28 WR, #32 in FL
Scout — 4 star, #175 overall, #35 WR, #32 in FL
ESPN — 4 star (84 rating), #90 overall, #15 WR, #20 in FL
In addition to Notre Dame, Miami, and Duke, Kevin Austin also holds offers from Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oregon, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, among others. Not too shabby.
This was a fun highlight reel. Austin isn’t Will Fuller, but he’s fast enough to make you pay for missed tackles. What really stood out to me is that he has what I would call deceptive speed: He has long, easy strides, and gets to full speed without looking like he’s trying. He also knows when to step on the gas and when to ease off, so he can set up angles and surprise guys. He has excellent vision in the open field and runs in traffic like a tailback; he’s not shy about taking guys on, and some of the stiffarms he threw made me wince. Ouch. His shiftiness is pretty good for a guy his size as well. Again, nobody’s going to confuse him with Barry Sanders, but he has some good wiggle for being 6’3″+.
He has soft hands and generally does a good job of snatching the ball, but I did see him let it get into his body a couple of times; a couple of those looked like power slants where he may have been shielding the defender, but at least one was a fade. On the same reel he’s very aggressive going up for jump balls, so I’m sure he’ll be fine, he just needs to get more consistent. He’ll probably also need to develop as a route runner, as I didn’t see anything here to indicate he’s advanced right now. Those are both eminently workable things, though, and given his businesslike approach mentioned above I have no doubt he’ll improve quickly.
Notre Dame has a lot of bodies at wide receiver, which would seem to indicate that Austin might face an uphill battle to make an early impact. On the flip side, very few of those players have distinguished themselves at this point, and Austin will arrive with a build that is both college-ready and aligned with what Chip Long prefers from his receivers. If Equanimeous St. Brown decides to jump to the NFL after 2017, the path could be even clearer. If Austin grasps the offense quickly he could earn action as a reserve immediately, with a starting role likely coming in 2019 or 2020.
Welcome to the Irish family, Kevin!