West Virginia's offense is full of playmakers that can provide excitement, and consequently, plenty of scoring.
At the top of the list of those players is Tavon Austin, one of the country's best all-purpose players.
His three-year career has been full of highlight reel plays and last season, very impressive numbers. His playmaking ability became even more evident in WVU's explosive performance against Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
For West Virginia, having a player of his caliber returning for yet another season is great. What's even better is when a returning starter like Austin is still improving. According to those that have been watching him through spring practices, that's exactly what he's doing.
"He's playing a lot faster than he did," said Dana Holgorsen. "One of the deals that we were talking about early was, he's a fast player, but he only plays fast ten percent of the time, 15 percent of the time. When the ball's in his hands, he's fast. When the ball's not in his hands, he's not. He's playing fast all the time. He looks like a totally different guy, which is obviously exciting."
That certainly is exciting, because there are few players that have the type of speed Austin has shown. To go along with that speed is a type of quickness and agility that is even more rare. In fact, that may be what separates him from other receivers.
"He has cat-quick reflexes," said Geno Smith. "He's one of those guys that can make not just one guy miss, but two and three guys miss in a phone booth. That's something I've never seen before, and coming from Florida, I've seen the best of the best and that guy has something that no one else has."
Austin will have higher expectations coming into this season than he's ever experienced. That sort of attention comes along with a season in which you catch 101 passes for 1,186 yards, like he did last year.
In the second year of Holgorsen's offense, those numbers could rise even higher, especially with the way this spring has been going for him.
"Right now, Tavon's leading this offense," Smith said. "There's no doubt about it. In the Orange Bowl, he took that upon himself to become that guy in this offense, and now he's just making us go. When the ball's in his hands, we go. Not to say anything about the rest of our receivers, but he's just one of those special type of guys who can make something happen any time he touches the ball."
It's no wonder Smith is quick to point out that he's not trying to take anything away from his other receivers, because he's got a pretty good group of them behind Austin. In fact, Austin didn't even lead the team in receiving yards last season. Stedman Bailey had 29 fewer catches, but racked up 1,279 yards.
Yet, there's still no arguing that there may not be a more dangerous player in the country with the ball in his hands than Austin. That's why he made was named to the AP All-American Third Team as an all-purpose player.
"He's a great returner. He's a football player," Smith said. "He's Mr. Everything for us, and the best part of it is, like Coach Holgorsen said, he's not just running fast with the football, but he's running fast without it, and he's getting open and it's making it tougher on the defense and it's giving me better passing lanes."
The best-case scenario for West Virginia is that the Orange Bowl was just a preview of what we can expect from Austin in 2012. In that game, he had 123 yards receiving and four touchdowns. When Smith was awarded as the game's MVP, he took the time to thank his receiver for making his job a little easier. As spring practice continues, so does Smith's praise for Austin's abilities.
"I just think that game put him on the stage where he needed to be," Smith said, "and I think he's embracing that and I think he wants to be one of the best players in the country. I think he is. I mean, I know he is because I don't see many guys doing what he does."
Holgorsen himself has said that he's rarely satisfied. That's how most coaches are. Yet, he seems to be happy with the way Austin has progressed so far this spring. Of course, it's hard not to smile when one of the country's most exciting players is getting even better.