|Tavon Austin was named the 2012 Paul Hornung Award Winner as the most versatile player in college football. (US Presswire)|
West Virginia senior Tavon Austin electrified college football over the last four years as a wide receiver, running back and return specialist. Austin finished his career in Morgantown with one of his most impressive seasons, and on Thursday was named the winner of the 2012 Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the nation's most versatile player.
"I am honored and humbled to be selected as the winner of the prestigious Paul Hornung Award," Austin said in an official statement. "Whether I am on the field as a receiver, in the backfield or as a returner, I have high expectations for myself, and I have always tried to use my versatility to help my team be successful. I want to thank my coaches and teammates for helping me achieve this honor."
Austin led the Big 12 and ranked No. 2 nationally with 2,910 all-purpose yards. While he was always a threat in the passing game and on special teams, Austin added a career-high 652 rushing yards in 2012 thanks to some new wrinkles in the Mountaineers' offense.
"Tavon's play on the field defines versatility, and as I said during the season, he was the most dangerous player in the nation with the ball in his hands," coach Dana Holgorsen said. "He is deserving of such a prestigious honor, and the program, the university and the state are very proud of him and his accomplishment."
Austin shattered several school and conference records as West Virginia transitioned from the Big East to the Big 12, but perhaps his most impressive performance came in a 50-49 losing effort against Oklahoma. Austin finished the game with 572 all-purpose yards, the second most in FBS history and a new Big 12 conference record.
The West Virginia wide receiver -- who, by the way, is the only player in school history to score a touchdown four different ways -- is currently projected as a late first-round pick by CBSSports.com. Rob Rang and Dane Brugler have him selected at 25 and 29, respectively, as the No. 3 wide receiver in the 2013 class.
"Due to his experience as a running back, Austin shows little fear amongst the big bodies and is as dangerous in the quick screen game as any player in the country," writes CBSSpots.com NFL Draft expert Rob Rang. "Not surprisingly, it is in this role that coach Dana Holgorsen elected to feature Austin last season, having him operate out of the slot so as to take advantage of the playmaker's vision, agility and acceleration."
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