NEW WEST VIRGINIA football signee Deontay McManus was playing Pop Warner football when he first caught wind of Tavon Austin.
McManus had heard Austin ran like the wind at his soon-to-be new school, Dunbar High in Baltimore.
"He was one of the greatest running backs to ever come out of Maryland," McManus said.
Austin, now WVU's flashy receiver, is indeed one of the best from the Old Line State. He owns Maryland high school records in points (790), touchdowns (123), total offensive yards (9,258) and rushing yards (7,962).
McManus wanted to follow in Austin's footsteps.
Then. And now.
That's why on Wednesday, McManus, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound slot receiver, signed with the Mountaineers. The signee is perhaps the highest-rated recruit in coach Dana Holgorsen's first class.
McManus was a three-year two-way starter for Dunbar with all the accolades, including two years on the consensus all-state defensive team. He was a four-star recruit and had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Tennessee, you name it.
Yet McManus - who has been clocked in the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds - fast arrived at his decision to attend WVU.
"I fell in love with the place when I first got there," McManus said. "Coach Holgorsen, Coach [Daron] Roberts, the campus ... And the fans there love me. I could see myself there.
"Plus, there's the offense. They run the spread and throw the ball a lot. And Coach Holgorsen said they will throw more next season."
McManus said he was impressed Holgorsen has coached receivers like NFL player Michael Crabtree, but the impetus to the signing keeps returning to Austin. That even extends to how Holgorsen said McManus would be used.
"I'll be a slot," McManus said, "but they said they'll line me up in the backfield too."
Like they've done with Austin?
"Yep," McManus said.
McManus compares his style of play to that of Anquan Boldin, 6-1, 223 pounds, of the Baltimore Ravens. That, of course, is a contrast to the slight but dynamic Austin.
But back to that connection between McManus and Austin. It runs deep.