Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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20 PRESEASON 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY PATRICK ENGEL K evin Austin Jr. took his place on the boundary side during an early August practice, eyeing the same prey he hunted earlier. Austin lined up with junior cor- nerback Cam Hart opposite him and shot off the line at the snap. About 10 to 12 yards downfield, with Hart still on his hip, he rock- eted into the air, turned his body toward the ball and away from Hart, and snared a pass. Just as smoothly as he went up, he descended and hit the gas pedal across the field. Not until gaining around 10 yards after the catch did a defender corral him with an arm to the chest and bring him down. This was after two wins on fade routes in one-on-one drills versus Hart, Notre Dame's pro- jected starting boundary corner and an offseason riser. Before that, he gained about five yards of separation on a simple hitch pattern. Fellow Irish wide re- ceiver Avery Davis, who moon- lighted as a cornerback two fall camps ago, appreciates Hart's plight. "He made my time playing corner not fun," Davis said, recalling his at- tempts at covering Austin in August 2019. Inside Notre Dame football's walls, Austin's ability to send cornerbacks through the spin cycle and pull down jump balls like a center rebounding a basketball is no new phenomenon. His teammates and coaches have seen his long strides chew up real es- tate when he runs after the catch. His 6-2, 215-pound frame is a prototype for a wide receiver. Since arriving on campus, Austin, Ri- vals' No. 88 overall recruit in 2018, has been the subject of widespread adora- tion and a marvel among teammates. "Kevin Austin, people don't talk a lot about him, but he's a special tal- ent," former Irish receiver Chase Clay- pool said in November 2019. "He has really good speed and clean cuts. He's a crazy athlete who's still learning." "You're going to see a star," senior receiver Braden Lenzy said last fall. Yet publicly, Austin has spent his first three years at Notre Dame shrouded in a veil of captivating mys- tery. Due to a suspension in 2019 (rea- ON THE CUSP Senior wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr. is poised for a long-delayed breakout season Austin is poised to be Notre Dame's No. 1 receiver this fall, despite totaling just six receptions for 108 yards his first three years in South Bend. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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