View Full Version : Rob Austin article in Dothan Eagle

08-12-2005, 08:42 AM
Interesting article about O line

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08-12-2005, 09:41 AM
Troy's Austin adjusting to new role
Drew Champlin / Eagle Staff
August 12, 2005

What you have in Rob Austin is a tight end who can play on a situational basis in the Sun Belt.
What you also have in Austin is a left tackle with the potential to make it in the National Football League.
At least that’s how Troy coaches felt this spring, when Austin, a 6-foot-5, 267-pound junior, was moved from tight end to left tackle.
Junior college transfers Josh Pruitt and Ben Ramsey proved capable at tight end, while Kenny Griffin couldn’t get the job done at left tackle.
“We couldn’t put a finger on (why Griffin struggled) because he’s got the strength, but he couldn’t make the blocks,” offensive line coach Jeff Fela said. “Rob had been a spot player at tight end and he had the skills to play tackle. We brought him over and he’s 267, but I knew I could put some weight on him.”
The move actually surprised Austin, who starred at defensive end and tight end at Fort Payne High School, but was recruited as a tight end. In three years (one spent as a redshirt), Austin had only three catches at tight end.
Tight ends coach Brian Turner told Austin he’d be making the move before the last two weeks of spring practice.
“It kind of bothered me a little bit at first, because tight end was what I was used to, but now I’m a lineman and I feel like one,” Austin said.
Austin hasn’t struggled too much with the transition, as he was a starter in the first spring scrimmage after the move.
“I’ve been able to pick it up pretty well lately and I’ve started to learn to pass block, which is something I was struggling at in the transition,” Austin said. “I feel like this is where I was supposed to be all along.”
Since Austin has lined up next to tackles his whole life while playing tight end, blocking for the run has been smooth. The thing he’s struggled the most at is pass blocking.
“That’s all about technique and I can coach that in him,” Fela said.
According to Fela, Austin’s ceiling is high for life after Troy.
“He’s got a lot of potential,” Fela said. “Not a little, but a lot. He’s one of those guys who could play on Sundays at the next level.”
Head coach Larry Blakeney agreed.
“He gives us a tight end type athlete at tackle,” Blakeney said. “He’s probably set at that position after he’s done from school. At the other position, he’s a good blocker but only an average receiver. He’ll make us that much better if he can stay as a starter at left tackle.”
As for Austin, he’ll miss running out for a pass, but even that is something he’s got his eyes set on.
“I’ve joked around to some people about having a tackle-eligible play,” Austin said. “That’s one part I am going to miss, getting my hands on the ball, but it’s a tradeoff I’ve made and that’s fine with me.”
The rest of the line: Austin will team with senior Zarah Yisrael to form a solid left side. Yisrael (6-foot-2, 281), started five games at right guard last season.
“Zarah Yisrael is the strongest player I’ve ever had to coach,” Fela said. “He’s got the best 40 time of the linemen and he can bench the world.”
The rest of the line has junior James Gardner (6-foot-2, 311) at center, junior Kirbie Bodiford (6-foot4, 287) at right guard and senior James Edwards (6-foot-5, 304) at right tackle. Fela is hoping Griffin, who moved to guard after Austin beat him out at left tackle, can be the unit’s “sixth man” as a reserve.