By Mickey Furfari
For the Times West Virginian
I know a guy who couldn’t be happier that Tavon Austin has decided to return for his senior year of West Virginia University football.
The 5-foot-9, 176-pound junior from Baltimore, Md., is the most versatile, fastest major contributor among the Orange Bowl champion Mountaineers.
For starters, this magnificent young man of many moves in No. 1 in the nation in all-purpose yards with 2,574 yards. That averages out to 198 yards per game.
I certainly think that status, of itself, is worthy of an All-America first-team selection.
The breakdown of four different play phases is just as impressive.
Austin, who’s listed as an inside wide receiver, finished the 2011 season with 101 pass receptions for 1,106 yards and eight touchdowns.
His longest was 72 yards, and he averaged 11.7 yards per catch and 91.2 receiving yards per game.
As a rusher, Austin was called on just 16 times and amassed 182 yards (11.4 per carry) and scored a touchdown on an 80-yard gallop. Austin ranked third in rushing for the season.
He returned 18 punts for 268 yards (14.2 per punt) and returned 36 kickoffs for 928 yards (46.1 average) and two touchdowns (one for 100 yards).
In West Virginia’s 70-33 crushing of 15th ranked ACC champion Clemson, Austin’s four receiving touchdowns set a record for the BCS bowls. His 12 receptions in that blowout for 123 yards and the four scores tied a school record with Jock Sanders set in 2007.
Austin ranks sixth nationally in punt returns, eighth in receptions per game, 21st in kick returns and 24th in reception yards per game.
As you can see, these are a lot of reasons to be happy that Tavon Austin is coming back in 2012.
Quarterback Geno Smith, the Orange Bowl MVP, also will still be there to feed him the ball. He said he probably should give Austin that MVP trophy he got for his 401-yard passing bowl record.
Austin has said he’s coming back because he thinks he’ll be drafted higher for NFL play a year hence. He also likes WVU’s prospects for another highly successful season in 2012.
Geno Smith obviously has similar sentiments for staying the course.
Dana Holgorsen will have nearly all of his offensive starters back in his second year as WVU’s head coach. But the defensive unit must be rebuilt for the most part, as it was in 2011.