Aug. 25, 2010
Up Next: Saturday, Sept. 4 at Oregon
On The Air: 770-AM KKOB
Online: GameTracker; game story, stats on GoLobos.com
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
When it comes to a backup role as a Lobo, true freshman Tarean Austin might be just as happy backing up Dairese Gary at the point guard spot over in The Pit. Austin probably is good enough, too.
But about five years back, Austin made a decision that his future was on the football field and this week he was named as the Lobos' No. 2 quarterback behind starter B.R. Holbrook.
"It just seemed like football was my ticket," said Austin. "Basketball probably is my favorite sport and I think if I had taken basketball more seriously, I could have played (college). But I'm not 6-8, 6-9 and reality told me I had more potential in football.
"It was hard to leave basketball, but I'm good with football and I love to play it, too."
Steve Alford's loss appears to be Mike Locksley's gain. Austin was a four-year lettermen in both sports in Hillsborough High in Tampa, Fla. In basketball, he was good. In football, he was very good.
Rivals.com listed him as a three-star recruit after throwing for 2,132 yards and 20 touchdowns with six interceptions as a senior. Schools such as Iowa State, Michigan State and Purdue wooed him before he decided to be a Lobo.
"I liked the coaching staff and I also wanted to go away," said Austin. "I think coming here will make me a better man."
9-4 -- At Oregon
9-11 -- Texas Tech
9-18 -- Utah
9-25 -- At UNLV
10-2 -- UTEP
10-9 -- At NMSU
10-23 -- SDSU
10-30 -- At CSU
11-13 -- At Air Force
11-20 -- At Brigham Young
11-27 -- TCU
Austin said he grew up dreaming about basketball. He concentrated on the round ball until his eighth grade when his basketball coach, also a football assistant, talked him to coming out for football.
He was a wide receiver for a season before his athleticism, his arm and his decision-making moved him into a huddle. He was a four-year starter at Hillsborough High and considered to be one of the nation's top arms when he graduated in 2010.
In his quest for playing time as a Lobo, he had to battle Holbrook, junior Brad Gruner and true freshman Stump Godfrey. Lobo coach Mike Locksley said Godfrey probably will redshirt the 2010 season. The Lobo coach said he hopes to give Austin an offensive series in each game, depending on the scoreboard and the situation.
You can see what Locksley and the Lobos like about Austin. He needs to improve his footwork and his setup as a passer, but he has a strong and accurate arm. He also is willing to put in the extra work.
The last Lobo off the practice field on Wednesday was Austin - and his lone receiver.
"I still have a lot of work to be done," he said. "This is D-I football. I might be young, but being young goes out the window because this is all business now. No time to be young.
"I'm also willing to put in the work and do whatever it takes to get better and play. I'm learning the system more and more each day. It's getting easier for me, but I keep thinking I could be playing better. I don't think I've played up to my potential."
Austin has locked up the No. 2 position, but not by much. Gruner has a season of experience under his belt with UNM's quick-strike, no-huddle attack. The junior might not have the pure talent that Austin possesses, but Gruner is tough, savvy and a respected leader.
"Brad knows the offense and it's a blessing to have him," said David Reaves, Locksley's quarterbacks coach. "He doesn't need as many reps as the younger guys and he knows what he's doing. We know what we have with Brad and his attitude has been great for the team. He has some college experience and that's a plus.
"Tarean is an athletic kid and he can throw it around. He has a lot to learn, but he is already making good decisions. When he goes into a game, we'll keep it simple for him. We'll give him a game plan he can execute, but one that still enables him to move the team."