Calvin Austin Hype Growing Within Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Calvin Austin is on track for a breakout year according to his position coach.
Nov 12, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Calvin Austin III  against the Green Bay Packers during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 12, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Calvin Austin III against the Green Bay Packers during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports / Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

PITTSBURGH -- After spending his rookie year sidelined by a preseason injury, Calvin Austin III finally got his feet wet during the 2023 season, appearing in all 17 games and even starting one for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The former fourth-round pick in 2022 is comfortable and now he's starting to turn some heads.

Austin's position coach, Zach Azzanni - who's in his first year with the Steelers - gushed about the third year pro's work ethic and subsequent improvements over just eight weeks of work leading into mandatory minicamp. The self-described perfectionist coach has been wowed by the strides that Austin has taken since arriving for work this spring.

“He’s been outstanding. That’s a guy who’s gone from here to here in just eight weeks," Azzanni said, raising his left hand well above the right to illustrate how far Austin has come. "I mean, it’s been really fun to watch. He’s a worker, he’s intentful, he’s urgent, he wants to be coached and you can see it because his game has done that."

Austin's impact on the Steelers offense to this point in his career has been negligible. Upon returning from injury to open the 2023 season, he was buried on the depth chart behind Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Allen Robinson. Austin played 18% of the special teams snaps and 35% of the offensive snaps, totaling 249 yards on punt returns and 237 yards from scrimmage with 2 touchdowns.

His speed and precise route-running can make him electric with the ball in his hands at times and, with so many different threats on the Steelers offense for opposing defenses to cover, the diminutive Austin can find small gaps in which to make a big impact, like some of his long punt returns or the 72-yard touchdown pass he caught against the Raiders last season.

There will be an opportunity for Austin as he tries to rise up a depth chart that has a clear-cut No. 1 option in George Pickens but little proven depth behind him. The Steelers are looking for playmakers to step up and Azzanni believes Austin's traits can translate to the Steelers' new offense, especially given the way he's worked to this point. If he can continue his steady progress forward, Austin could be a secret weapon lying in wait for the Steelers to unleash.

"I’m really, really excited for his season," Azzanni said. "If he keeps practicing the way he’s been practicing.”

Make sure you bookmark All Steelers for the latest news, exclusive interviews, film breakdowns and so much more

Subscribe to the All Steelers YouTube Channel


Published
Stephen Thompson

STEPHEN THOMPSON

Stephen Thompson graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications and political science from Pitt in April 2022 after spending four years as a sports writer and editor at The Pitt News, the University of Pittsburgh's independent, student-run newspaper. He primarily worked the Pitt men's basketball beat, and filled in on coverage of football, volleyball, softball, gymnastics and lacrosse, in addition to other sports as needed. His work at The Pitt News has won awards from the Pennsylvania News Media Association and Associated College Press. During the spring and summer of 2021, Stephen interned for Pittsburgh Sports Now, covering baseball in western Pennsylvania. Hailing from Washington D.C., family ties have cultivated a love of Boston's professional teams and Pitt athletics, and a fascination with sports in general.