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For all of running back C.J. Spiller's talent, he was able to rely on holes being opened by two-time All-ACC selection Thomas Austin over his career. The veteran of 38 career starts, including the past 37 consecutively, Austin has developed into one of the country's most versatile and dependable interior linemen, splitting time between both guard spots and center.
Splitting between left guard and center as a junior helped Austin develop quite a name for himself. In fact, throughout his career Austin accumulated five ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week awards, tying the Clemson all-time career record at his position. He tied for the conference lead as a junior by being honored three times (Rodney Hudson, Florida State). While Austin's lack of sustained quickness and strength were a concern, scouts chalked it up to his alternating between positions.
Returning to left guard exclusively as a senior, however, Austin's lack of sustained quickness and only moderate power was exposed. Quicker, stronger athletes consistently gave him problems in 2009, worrying scouts about how he'll fare in the NFL. A team needing depth inside will be sure to value Austin's versatility and consistency, but with little athletic upside, this big name could suffer a big drop come draft day.
Pass blocking: Good punch to jar the defensive tackle during pass protection. Stays square to the defender by sliding laterally and keeping his knees bent. Good strength and placement with his hands. Good use of hands and leverage to anchor against the bull rush.
Run blocking: Good initial pop as a run blocker and can push defenders off the line of scrimmage due to good leverage and leg drive. Good turn and seal blocker, but struggles with bigger, stronger defenders. Can absorb the bull rush, but too often takes a step back in doing so, potentially falling back into the ball carrier.
Pulling/trapping: Good first step quickness to get out, but lacks sustained speed to get out and around the line. Good flexibility for the cut block in space. Inconsistent sustain of blocks at the second level.
Initial Quickness: Moderate intitial quickness off the snap. Can be beaten by quicker pass rushers and lacks the burst and bend to recover if beaten. Good lateral agility to slide in pass protection. Good initial pop to stun the defender in the running game.
Downfield: Good first step quickness to get to the second level. Lacks anything more than phone-booth quickness. Good angles to block effectively at the second level. Keeps his head on a swivel and identifies his target at the second level, but is too often beaten to the spot.
Intangibles: Short, squatty build conducive to interior line play. Versatile. Has started at all three interior line positions. Cerebral. Makes the line calls. Viewed by some as a better center prospect, but has only 15 career starts at the position and played left guard exclusively as a senior. Austin played center in only one game in high school and never at center for Clemson until 2007. As a center, is an efficient snapper in typical quarterback-center exchange, as well as in shotgun. Legitimate center prospect with the quick hands to handle the rusher after the snap. Played as a graduate student in 2009. Political Science major.
An All-America and Outland Trophy candidate when he will be the senior leader of the offensive line...rated as the top senior center in the nation for the 2010 NFL draft by Mel Kiper...second-team preseason All-American by Phil Steele...consensus preseason All-ACC selection...#4 draft-eligible offensive guard in the nation by Phil Steele...#4 offensive guard in the nation by Lindy's...Second-Team All-ACC center in 2008; he started seven games at center and six at offensive guard in 2008...first-team All-ACC by Rivals.com and Phil Steele...first-team Academic All-ACC selection; he graduated in August of 2009...three-time ACC Offensive Lineman-of-the-Week in 2008, tied for the most selections among ACC linemen; he became the first Tiger offensive lineman to win the award three times in one season since Stacy Long won it three times in 1989, a year Long was a first-team All-American...has won five career ACC Offensive Lineman-of-the-Week awards, tied for third-most in Clemson history and tied for most among offensive linemen; the record is seven by linebacker Keith Adams (1998-00) and the offensive lineman record is five by Long and Austin.
Has played 34 career games with 25 career starts...played 795 snaps in 2008, more than any other offensive player, and is a veteran of 1,692 career snaps...has 206 career knockdowns, more than any other active Tiger...won the team's strength training Dedication Award for 2008...only married player on the team; he is married to the former Margaret Hall...won the Solid Rock Award among 2008 offensive linemen...named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll for the 2008-09 academic year...his 440-pound bench press is fourth-best on the team...did 31 reps of 225 pounds, third-best on the team...went on a mission trip to Mexico during 2008 spring break...fine public speaker who spoke at Clemson's statewide IPTAY meeting in February of 2009.
2009 All-Atlantic Coast Conference Second team (Media)...Austin is a big reason Clemson ranks in the top 25 in the nation in scoring offense and had a school record streak of six straight games with at least 34 points earlier this year.
Second-Team All-ACC center by AP/ACSMA; he started seven games at center and six at offensive guard in 2008…first-team All-ACC by Rivals.com and Phil Steele… first-team Academic All-ACC selection, he will graduate in August 2009…three-time ACC Offensive Lineman-of the-Week in 2008, tied for the most selections among linemen in 2008…first Tiger offensive lineman to win the award three times in one season since Stacy Long won it three times in 1989, a year Long was first-team All-American…has won five career ACC Offensive Lineman-of-the-Week awards, tied for third-most in Clemson history and tied for most among offensive linemen; the record is seven by linebacker Keith Adams (1998-00) and the offensive lineman record is five by Long and Austin…named ACC Offensive Lineman-of-the-Week for his performances against N.C. State, Boston College, and Virginia and for the Central Michigan and South Carolina game in 2007…named Clemson’s top offensive player by the coaches against Duke…member of an offensive line that received the award for the South Carolina game…led the team in knockdown blocks (98), the second straight year he has done that…had 90 knockdowns in 13 games in 2007…has played 34 career games with 25 career starts… played 795 snaps in 2008, more than any other offensive player and is a veteran of 1,692 career snaps…has 206 career knockdowns, more than any other active Tiger…only Tiger offensive lineman to start all 13 games in 2008; he and Aaron Kelly were the only Tigers on offense to start every game…had an average film grade of 82 percent for the season, highest among all Tiger offensive linemen… had the highest film grade among offensive linemen in eight games and led the team in knockdown blocks in nine games… had double-digits in knockdown blocks four times, including each of the last three regular season games…had 35 knockdowns in the last three regular season games when Clemson had a 3-0 record…led the offensive line against N.C. State with 10.5 knockdown blocks and an 82-percent grade in 60 snaps; he was named ACC Offensive Lineman-of-the-Week…had five knockdowns and an 82-percent grade at Boston College to earn ACC Offensive Lineman-of-the-Week honors… had 13 knockdowns against Duke, his season-high, and was named ACC Offensive Lineman-of-the-Week…had 11 knockdowns at Virginia and 11 against South Carolina…had an 86-percent grade in 60 snaps against the Gamecocks, a special win for the native of Camden, SC… led or tied for the lead in knockdown blocks in each of the last six games of the regular season.
Started 12 games in 2007, including four at right offensive guard and eight at center...started each of the last 10 games of the regular season, including each of the last seven at center...also started in Chick-fil-A Bowl… his development at center was outstanding and paralleled Clemson’s improvement over the course of the 2007 year...played just one game at center in his high school career and none at center prior to 2007 season at Clemson; he became a starter at the position for the ACC’s top-scoring offense in 2007...led the team in knockdown blocks (95), including a season-high 13 in the win at South Carolina... enters the 2008 season with 22 games, 12 starts, 897 snaps, and 114 knockdown blocks in his career...honorable mention sophomore All-American by CollegeFootballNews.com... won ACC Offensive Lineman-of-the-Week honors for the South Carolina game when he had team-best 87-percent grade...third on the team in offensive snaps (780); he missed the Louisiana-Monroe game with an injury...two-time ACC Offensive Linemanof- the-Week selection; he also won the award for the Central Michigan game...planting the seeds for an All-ACC season as a junior in 2008... led the team in snaps in each of the last nine games in 2007...played a career-high 94 snaps and had 12 knockdown blocks in the Virginia Tech game...led the team in knockdown blocks five times, all of which took place over the last seven games of the 2007 regular season... had at least 12 knockdown blocks in three straight games at midseason (Virginia Tech, Central Michigan, Maryland)...had his best grade (87 percent) of the year against South Carolina...graded in the 80s in each of the last eight games and in 11 of the 13 games he played...played well in the win at N.C. State with an 82-percent grade and 8.5 knockdown blocks...had 12.5 knockdown blocks and an 82-percent grade in 91 snaps in the win at Maryland... had his second-best grade of the year in a loss to #18 Boston College; he had an 86-percent grade in 72 snaps and had 4.5 knockdown blocks.
Had 22 knockdown blocks in 117 snaps, including three intimidation blocks...had his best game against Louisiana Tech when he had a 92-percent grade in 12 plays and had 5.5 knockdown blocks, including two intimidation blocks...saw his most action against Temple when he played 33 snaps; he had a career-high 6.5 knockdown blocks in that game...saw 27 snaps of action against North Carolina and had 2.5 knockdown blocks...saw action in six of the last seven games on offense, including 10 snaps against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl...played 22 snaps in his first career game against Florida Atlantic and had 3.5 knockdown blocks.
Red-shirted...scout team player-of-the-year on offense by the coaching staff...named to the Academic Honor Roll for the fall semester.
Graded out at over 90 percent as a senior at Camden High School…all-state selection by The State, High School Sports Report, and SCVarsity.com as a senior…Upstate Lineman-of-the-Year as a senior…Shrine Bowl starter at offensive tackle…one of the top-10 players in the Shrine Bowl by Rivals.com…all-county, all-region, and all-area selection as a junior and senior…named to the SuperPrep Mid-Atlantic team as the 11th-best prospect in South Carolina…all-region and all-area as a senior…97th-best player on the East Coast by SuperPrep…20th-best offensive guard in the nation and the eighth-best player in South Carolina by Rivals.com…ranked ninth on Spartanburg Herald-Journal's Fab-50 list…ranked as the eighth-best player in South Carolina by TigerIllustrated.com and the #3-rated player in South Carolina by TigerNet.com…ranked #7 in South Carolina by CUTigers.com…#1 offensive lineman in South Carolina by The State…graded out at over 85 percent as a junior…played every position on the offensive line in high school…three-year letterman in wrestling who won the AAA state wrestling title as a junior…had a 66-4 career record in wrestling…state finalist and North/South All-Star in wrestling as a senior…four-year letterman in football; he played on the AAA state championship team as a freshman offensive tackle…honor student and recipient of the Governor's Award for outstanding character…president of his high school FCA and a soloist in the church choir…coached by Jimmy Neal…chose Clemson over Maryland, Penn State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest.
Born Thomas Austin on Nov. 14, 1986...majoring in political science.
Draft Scout Player News
10/28/13 - C Thomas Austin was signed to the Colts' practice squad. Austin was on Indianapolis' practice roster earlier this season but has yet to play in a regular-season game with the team. He has also spent time on the Carolina and Houston rosters.
08/31/13 - C Thomas Austin was released on Saturday as the Indianapolis Colts got down to the league-mandated 53-player roster to start the season.
08/01/13 - C Thomas Austin signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Austin, 6-4, 310 pounds, has appeared in seven career games (one start) with the Carolina Panthers (2012) and Houston Texans (2011). In 2012, he played in four games and made his first career start with the Panthers. Austin was originally signed by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent on April 25, 2010 and spent a majority of the 2010 season on the New England Patriots practice squad.
07/24/13 - OG Thomas Austin had his contract terminated by Carolina.
12/21/12 - C Thomas Austin, who left Wednesday's practice after getting sick, sat out Thursday.
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