Perhaps no single Notre Dame player is more excited about the season opener against Florida State than Kevin Austin Jr.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior wide receiver is going home, it’s a big game, he’s used to hot, humid weather, and he’s finally healthy.
Austin is ready to show the Notre Dame faithful how good he can be.
The problem with Austin has been injuries. Austin broke his left foot not once but twice in 2020. The first fracture occurred in fall camp a little over a year ago. Ironically, Austin made it back last year for the home game against Florida State, which was Oct. 10. He played the next week in a 12-7 win against Louisville.
Austin, who will have about 10 family members and friends at the game, said it’s a great place to return.
“I’m very humbled and excited to get after it,” Austin said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. It’s a great opportunity to finally be here in the moment. I just have to take it by the rails and keep going with it.”
Austin broke his foot again in the practice leading up to the Pittsburgh game. He missed all of spring practice recovering. Austin said he learned a lesson about recovering from a serious injury.
Take your time.
Austin is careful to ice down after practice and stretch properly now.
He’s not in a hurry.
“I definitely learned I needed to take it slower, “ he said. “You know, everything is a process.”
Asked if he returned too quickly, Austin said: “I wouldn’t say that. I’d say I was probably pushing myself too much, and that’s why I feel like it could’ve been the reason (it was fractured again).”
Austin finished with one catch for 18 yards last year. He had five catches for 90 yards as a freshman and did not play his sophomore year. Austin, a Top 100 recruit according to the 247Sports Composite list, played high school football at North Broward Prep in Pompano Beach, Florida.
He was projected as a physical, game breaking type of receiver, and the Irish are hoping he finally shows that on the game field this season.
Austin isn't the only potential big-play wideout for the Irish. The talented wideout believes the rest of the receiving corps is "explosive."
There is enough diversity on the offense with tight end Michael Mayer, an All-American candidate and a top notch running game, that this receiving core could potentially be very good.
Sophomore running back Kyren Williams said Austin is going to surprise some people.
“I’m so excited because nobody really knows what Kevin can do,” Williams said following the team's Tuesday practice. “I want people to know what Kevin can do is what people see at practice. I’m excited and I can’t wait for Kevin to show his stuff.”
Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees said before training camp ended that he’s excited to see what Austin will bring.
“I think there's a guy who's gone through a lot in his career here but has found a way to persevere, and now is able to put himself in a position to have a great year,” Rees said. “He's worked hard to get back. He's worked hard to be in the position he's at. My joy to see Kevin out there doing what he loves has been nothing short of special for us.”
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