MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - One of the most intriguing names in the NFL draft that begins tonight in New York belongs to a player from West Virginia who rewrote many of the school's offensive records.
And no, it's not Geno Smith.
Well, yes, Smith is intriguing in his own right. Considered the top available quarterback, he would become the first Mountaineer QB to be drafted in the first round. That is, if he's drafted in tonight's first round. Mock drafts are all over the board regarding his position, ranging from a top-five pick to a slip into the second round.
Almost everyone is agreed, though, that Tavon Austin's name will be called in tonight's first round. And that despite being undersized and, as recently as two months ago, considered no better than second- or third-round material.
What happened to change that? Well, Austin's performance at the NFL Combine, where he ran a blistering 4.34 40-yard dash.
"The Combine pretty much changed my whole life,'' Austin said.
Throw in the versatility he showed at West Virginia as a receiver, running back and kick returner and NFL teams seem to be intrigued. While most projections have him going in the 10-15 range in the first round, there was significant buzz in Philadelphia this week about new Eagles coach Chip Kelly taking him at No. 4.
That could just be buzz or smokescreen - and there's a ton of both regarding every draft - but Austin seems to have generated a lot of interest, despite his 5-foot-8 stature.
None of that surprises Dana Holgorsen.
"That's what college football has been about,'' Holgorsen said, referring to a rapid shift toward open-field playmakers. "And that's what you see the NFL kind of going to a little bit.''