The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will, once again, take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2021 season.
#4 Kevin Austin, WR
“SURELY this is the year.”
That’s what all Irish fans are desperately saying to each other entering the 2021 season as they discuss Kevin Austin, a senior wide receiver from Florida who’s got all the potential in the world but who’s just been unable to really substantiate any of the hype, for varying reasons.
The former 4-star, top-100 recruit chose the Irish over a laundry list of top programs when he signed with ND in 2018 (Clemson, Ohio State, Florida, Oregon, Auburn, Miami, Michigan, USC, etc.), and as a true freshman on a depth chart featuring a few talented veteran receivers, he still managed to flash some potential with 5 catches and 90 yards receiving in his 4 games played.
Heading into 2019 and with star receiver Miles Boykin off to the NFL, there appeared to be an opportunity for Austin to step in and at least be a heavy rotation guy, if not a starter alongside a guy like Chase Claypool. Instead, Austin was suspended for still-unannounced reasons for the entirety of the season.
2020 once again brought out the optimism, as Austin was assumed to be atop the young-and-unproven WR depth chart and was thus expected by many to have a breakout junior year. Instead, he broke his foot in July, leading him to miss the first two games of the 2020 slate. He was able to return and see some action against Florida State and Louisville, catching one pass for 18 yards. However, he was then ruled out for the Pittsburgh game after having re-injured his foot, and was then declared out for the season a bit later.
Thus, 3 years into his Irish career, and Austin’s only managed to play in 6 games thanks to a redshirt freshman season, a mysterious suspension, and some really rough injury luck.
THE RESTAURANT THAT FITS
I’m gonna go with St. Elmo Steak House in Indianapolis for Mr. Austin.
Despite growing up in Indy, I’ve never been to St. Elmo’s, but it’s extremely famous and known nationwide as a really good steakhouse with a world-class shrimp cocktail that’ll really hit you in your sinuses.
I think Austin bears a striking resemblance here, at least from my perspective — he was known nationwide as a top wide receiver prospect and supposedly has the potential to be great, but I personally haven’t been able to experience that greatness yet in watching him dominate any collegiate competition.
Here’s to hoping 2021 is the year Pat Rick finally gets to dine at St. Elmo’s, which is to say the year we all get to finally bear witness to the shrimp cocktail of greatness that Kevin Austin can bring to the Fighting Irish football program.
If only to be optimistic (because we could use some optimism these days, eh?), I predict that 2021 will finally be the season where Kevin Austin puts it all together and stays healthy, proving to be an exceptionally productive starter for a good but not great Irish offense. Jack Coan will do a solid job of putting the ball where it needs to be, and Austin will use his size, speed, and athleticism to make plenty of big plays throughout the year.
Call me crazy, but I’m thinking he does something to the tune of 600+ yards receiving on 40-50 receptions and scores 5-7 touchdowns over the course of the season. It’ll be enough to excite folks without making him a sure-fire NFL Draft pick, leading him to return for a 5th year in 2022 as a dark horse All-American candidate looking to prove he’s one of the most talented receivers in the country.
Editor’s Note: Food for thought...