Terrence Austin's pedigree
A few notes about Redskins rookie wide receiver Terrence Austin, the seventh-round pick from UCLA who could be a candidate for playing time on special teams.
High school star
Austin went to Long Beach Poly, one of the top athletic factories in the country. In addition to Chase Utley, Milton Bradley, Tony Gwynn and Billie Jean King, the school has produced about 50 NFL players, such as Willie McGinest, Mark Carrier, Leonard Russell, Gene Washington, Omar Stoutmire, Marcedes Lewis and DeSean Jackson.
Austin came after a pair of star receivers, Derrick Jones and Jackson, and said he modeled himself after their games. His high school coach said he was a step slower than the other two, but was more physical and ran more precise routes.
"He's probably the strongest of the three," the coach told the L.A. Times. "What I mean by that is, he's better at breaking tackles."
Some scouting services ranked Austin as a top 10 recruit in the nation, and when he signed with UCLA, he helped the Bruins' earn a No. 13 recruit class rating from USA Today.
In high school, Austin returned kicks but not punts. During a game against Lakewood his senior year, Austin returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the first half, one a 99-yarder to open the game and another one for 82 yards just before the half to give his team a 21-3 lead.
He didn't do punt returns until he got to UCLA, when he was frustrated by his lack of reps at receiver and was looking for a way to get on the field. By his junior year, he was doing both kickoff and punt returns, and he finished second in the Pac-10 in all-purpose yards, behind only Cal's Jahvid Best.
"I love both," he told me. "The good thing about it I don't have to rely on anyone to get me the ball but the punter or the kicker. There's so many other things that you've got to worry about on offense, four or five other guys that has an option to get the ball. All it has to do is be returnable, and I get to do what I want to do with it once I get it....
"My vision is fairly good for a return guy. I'm shifty, I use angles very well, and I'm really quick. And I'm not indecisive on which way I want to go."
Poly was also renowned for its track program, and there were plenty of sprinting specialists, so Austin concentrated elsewhere, competing in hurdles, long jump and high jump.
He said he was asked to come out for the annual spring meet with USC as a sophomore, and that he won the high jump with a mark of 6-9 and 3/4 off two days of practice. His vertical is 38-and-a-half.
Despite all the Poly guys in the NFL, Austin still found himself in awe when he showed up in Ashburn.
"Clinton Portis and DeAngelo Hall, Santana Moss, Donovan McNabb, all of these guys I've been watching on TV," he said. "It's a weird feeling. It's hard to explain. I can't really explain it. I see them and my eyes go bug, but I'm like I'm really here, I'm on the team with these guys. I'm just trying to catch my saddle and crank down and just pretty much pay attention to what I need to do and not be starstruck. I remember when I seen Donovan, I knew he was on the team, I just walked into the meeting room, and I'm like that's him! Then I looked to my left, Clinton Portis walked by, and I was like Damn, that's Clinton Portis! Then I was like T, just pay attention, man!
This was only his second time in D.C. -- the first came this winter, when Austin caught a touchdown pass in RFK during the Eagle Bank Bowl win over Temple. Austin lined up with the kick and punt returners in the limited special team drills done last week, along with guys like Hall, Devin Thomas and Anthony Armstrong, but he said coaches haven't discussed his possible route to a roster spot.
"Nobody's said anything," he said. "It's just pretty much come out here, learn the playbook, try to absorb as much as you can and let's see what you can do."
May 12, 2010; 4:19 PM ET
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