He going pro? TCU’s Jaelan Austin is a ‘freakish athlete’ with NFL dreams

Jaelan Austin is TCU’s strong man

TCU receiver Jaelan Austin has weight training in his family so it's not a surprise that he took the Frogs' strong man title this spring.
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TCU receiver Jaelan Austin has weight training in his family so it's not a surprise that he took the Frogs' strong man title this spring.

Wide receiver Jaelan Austin didn’t put up gaudy numbers in his career at TCU. His best season came as a sophomore in 2016, when he hauled in 23 receptions for 332 yards and five touchdowns.

But Austin is a naturally-gifted athlete who feels his playing days are far from over.

This is a guy with a Twitter handle of @HE_GOING_PRO.

This is a guy who has been touted as an “athletic freak” with a 780-pound squat, 450-pound bench press, 420-pound clean and 41-inch vertical jump.

Austin, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, is preparing for his professional career by training at APEC in Fort Worth. He’ll be ready to showcase his abilities to pro executives and scouts later this month at TCU’s Pro Day.

“Going into this process, I’m just trying to build on what I’ve already had naturally, God given,” Austin said last month during APEC’s media day. “That’s explosiveness and being a great athlete. The coaches here are building on that with me, the little things that make me even more of a freakish athlete.”

Austin’s goal is to run a 4.4- to 4.5-second 40-yard dash, and display his versatility on a football field. He took pride in being an option at every receiver position throughout his career, plus playing on special teams coverage and return units.

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That’s what he hopes NFL teams take away when they watch his film and watch him at Pro Day.

“They’re getting an all-around player that loves the game of football and is willing to sacrifice for the better good of the team,” Austin said. “When I was at TCU, I was willing to do whatever for the team. I played Y to X to Z to H [receiver positions]. I knew the whole offense and I’m fluid at receiver.

“I’d like to show my fluidness and my versatility and how fast I really am in and out of my breaks. The one thing that didn’t change for me is just the way I catch the ball. I’m a consistent catcher, strong-handed guy.”

Austin doesn’t feel his college numbers tell the whole story as far as his production. He is coming off a season in which he only had 17 catches for 149 yards receiving. It marked the second straight season without a touchdown reception.

But TCU started three different quarterbacks last season, and Austin went through a play-caller change on offense when Sonny Cumbie took over for Doug Meacham going into the 2017 season.

Austin acknowledged the rotating door at quarterback, going from Shawn Robinson to Mike Collins to Grayson Muehlstein to even Justin Rogers for a series in the Cheez-It Bowl, was difficult.

“It explains the numbers as an offense as a whole, just trying to find a rhythm with the quarterback,” Austin said. “But, for me, it was worrying about my job and doing whatever I could for the team to win. I feel it’s something that made me a better player and dialing in on the little things and being even more open, trying to make the job easier for the quarterback.

“It’s just about continuing to try and perfect your craft.”

Austin has no complaints about how his college career unfolded. He joined TCU as a three-star prospect out of South Grand Prairie, and ended up playing in four bowl games and being on two teams that finished the year ranked in the Top 10 (2015 and 2017).

He walks away from TCU with 65 receptions, 860 yards receiving and seven TDs in his college career.

“It was more than I imagined, honestly,” Austin said. “From the minute I stepped on campus, everyone had open arms. I had an opportunity to play behind a future first-round pick in Josh Doctson. To this day, there’s things I’ll say that I got from J-Doc, like the way I read coverages from the linebacker to the corner to the safety.

“It’s been great. I worked my way up to being a backup and then a starter.”

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Drew Davison is the TCU and Big 12 sports writer for the Star-Telegram. He’s covered everything in DFW from Rangers to Cowboys to motor sports.