The Pittsburgh Steelers know a thing or two about selecting and developing young wide receivers via the NFL Draft year in and year out. This year, the Steelers double dipped at the position in the 2022 NFL Draft, selecting WR George Pickens in the second round and WR Calvin Austin III in the fourth round. Austin didn’t get much of an opportunity to shine in his college days until his junior and senior seasons at Memphis, in which he exploded onto the scene. He caught 137 passes for over 2,200 yards in just those two seasons alone. Austin III looks to contribute for this Steelers offense in his rookie year.
Calvin Austin III’s father, Calvin Austin II, a long time Memphis police officer never let his job cut into his time of being a father to Austin and his four sisters. Austin attributed his work ethic and his ability to always push himself to his father.
“The way that he just pushed us, never took it light on us, never gave us an out, never felt sorry for us — but always showed how he cared and loved — it’d kind of be disrespectful when you’re out there to not give your best,” said Austin III. “Because he did so much. When you’re younger, you don’t really understand the amount of sacrifices that it takes.”
Austin II worked hard to let Austin III and his sisters know that dreams don’t come true easily. You have to put in the work and the time in order to accomplish what you want to accomplish.
“I didn’t get a lot of sleep, but it was just so exciting for me to have children and raise them in the way God wants them to be raised,” Austin II said with a laugh, also crediting Calvin’s mom, Mimi. “I was blessed enough that my kids didn’t go to daycare or anything like that because I would be there with them. My wife would breastfeed, leave the milk at home, I would sleep when they sleep, wake up and change them, everything.”
Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin Was Asked To Describe WR Calvin Austin III; His Response Was Simple – “Speed”
“You better be fast in this game and that’s the reality of it. That’s nothing new. It’s not earth shattering or groundbreaking. That is his distinguishing trait and it has to show up in all aspects of his play.”
Austin II knew early on that his son was different than everyone else that he played football with. It was a flag football game when Austin III earned the nickname “Cutback.” His dad figured that they would let him return the makeshift kickoff, so he told him to stay back and let the other boys block for him.
“We look back, and he didn’t stay behind us,” Austin II chuckled. “He ran to the other side of the field and outran his older cousins for a touchdown. We’re like, ‘Calvin, what happened?’ He said, ‘I was running, and I didn’t see anyone over there, so I ran.’ It was right then that we were like, ‘This is not normal.’ And his older cousins were saying how fast he was. They were about 10 or 12, and they couldn’t catch him.”
Austin III’s size has always come up when playing football, because it is such a physically demanding sport. But don’t let his size fool you. The kid can downright play!
Steelers Calvin Austin III Kept Notes From All Of His Doubters Growing Up – “That’s Kinda My Motivation”
“I would go to camps and have great showings, I’d run a fast 40,” he said. “But they’d always be like ‘your size, you gotta get bigger, your weight.’ I kinda wrote down in my phone, in my notes, all the things that coaches have said to me in the past about that.
That’s kinda my motivation.”
Even his coach at Memphis, Ryan Silverfield, admitted to underestimating Austin III due to his lack of size.
“I just remember this scrawny — probably 149 pounds at the time — just this little guy who looked like a little kid,” Silverfield said. “He sat in the back of the team room, and I was just like, ‘What is this? This is not a good fit here.’”
Silverfield spoke about why Austin III fits well with the Steelers offense:
“He can benefit from doing that stuff, so that’s why I think it’s a unique fit, system-wise, because Matt [Canada] does do fly sweeps, does do motion,” Silverfield said. “So if you’re still worried about Calvin’s size, I don’t think you need to be because they’ll be able to move him around so much.”
Austin III on how important of a role his father played in getting him where he is:
“He was just always there. I probably don’t even tell him enough how much I appreciate him,” Calvin said. “Honestly, this is our moment. This is what he wanted for me.”
Austin II spoke about Austin III and what his chance in the NFL means to him:
“The memories, what he’s doing now, it just makes me and his mom so proud. Because the way he got overlooked, it would’ve broken a lot of teenagers. But he never let that faze him,” Austin II said. “His faith and his perseverance, I just look back on those days of working midnights and getting off work and going to different camps and track meets and football games, all of that stuff. Now, to see what it has resulted in, him reaching his dream, what more can a parent ask for?”
What do yinz think about this sit down with rookie WR Calvin Austin III that tells about the role his father played getting him to the NFL? Let us know in the comment section below, or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!