Next Level Player of the Year: Tavon Austin, West Virginia

(Getty photo )
January 09, 2012|By Matt Bracken | The Baltimore Sun

The Next Level is a Recruiting Report feature that focuses on natives of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County who appear on NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision rosters.

For former Dunbar star Tavon Austin, 2011 was the season that he officially lived up to -- if not exceeded -- the hype.

Austin, the 2009 Baltimore Sun Male Athlete of the Year, was an often unstoppable scoring machine for West Virginia in the fall. Never was that more evident than last week in the Mountaineers' 70-33 rout of Clemson in the Orange Bowl, when Austin caught 11 passes for 117 yards and four touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 46 yards on four carries and returning five kickoffs for 117 yards.

Austin finished his junior season with 101 catches for 1,186 yards and eight touchdowns, 16 rushes for 182 yards and one score, 19 punt returns for 268 yards, and 36 kickoff returns for 938 yards and two TDs. The former Poet was named to the All-Big East first team as a wide receiver and a return specialist.

For his performance in the Orange Bowl and all season long for the Mountaineers, Austin is your 2011 Next Level Player of the Year.

Honorable mention

* Colorado State sophomore linebacker Shaquil Barrett led the Rams in total tackles with 99 (45 solo). The Baltimore native, who graduated from Boys Town High School in Nebraska, also contributed 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three pass breakups, two fumble recoverines, two quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and one interception. Barrett, an honorable mention All-Mountain West selection, returned the interception 52 yards for a touchdown, and he returned one fumble 15 yards for a score.

* Maryland junior safety Eric Franklin (Archbishop Curley) was the Terps' second-leading tackler with 106 stops (64 solo), including 4.5 tackles for loss. He also broke up four passes, recovered one fumble and blocked one kick.

* North Carolina senior linebacker Zach Brown (Wilde Lake) was the Tar Heels' leading tackler with 105 stops (62 solo). He also had 13.5 tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries, 5.5 sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Brown, a first-team All-ACC defensive team selection, is a potential first-round prospect for April's NFL Draft. UNC fell to Missouri, 41-24, in the Independence Bowl. 

* Syracuse junior wide receiver Alec Lemon (Arundel) was the Orange's top pass-catcher with 68 receptions for 834 yards and six touchdowns. Lemon, who also threw a 28-yard touchdown pass, was a second-team All-Big East selection.

* Temple junior running back Matt Brown rushed for 947 yards and six touchdowns on 155 carries in 13 games. The Baltimore native and Peddie School (N.J.) grad also returned 28 kicks for 703
yards and one touchdown,
18 punts for 182 yards, caught one pass for three yards, and made three tackles (one solo). Brown rushed for one score in Temple's 37-15 win over Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl.

* Virginia Tech sophomore cornerback Kyle Fuller (Mount St. Joseph) was the Hokies' fourth-leading tackler with 65 stops (46 solo), including 14.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Fuller also had seven pass breakups, five quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble, and two interceptions -- one of which he returned for a touchdown. The Hokies dropped a 23-20 overtime game to Michigan in the Sugar Bowl.

* Wake Forest sophomore wide receiver Michael Campanaro (River Hill) caught 73 passes for 833 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 23 yards on two carries, was 3-for-4 passing for 106 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, returned nine punts for 81 yards and one touchdown, and returned seven kickoffs for 149 yards.

* West Virginia junior safety Terence Garvin (Loyola) was the Mountaineers' fourth-leading tackler with 72 stops (43 solo), including 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He also had three pass breakups, two interceptions and one quarterback hurry. West Virginia routed Clemson, 70-33, in the Orange Bowl.

Senior salute

* Arkansas State senior cornerback Darron Edwards (Dunbar) contributed 49 tackles (29 solo), including one tackle for loss and half a sack. He also broke up four passes, forced three fumbles and intercepted three passes in 12 games. The Red Wolves fell to Northern Illinois, 38-20, in the Bowl.

* Mississippi senior defensive end Wayne Dorsey (Southwestern) recorded 22 tackles (14 solo), five tackles for loss, three sacks, two pass breakups, one quarterback hurry, one forced fumble and one interception in six games. Dorsey, a captain, broke his right arm in the Rebels' 52-7 loss to Alabama on Oct. 15 and was lost for the season.

Rookie standouts

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