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Memphis Tigers' Calvin Austin III conquers adversity at NFL draft

<p>Calvin Austin III, although undersized, attracted attention with his NFL combine performance.</p>
Calvin Austin III, although undersized, attracted attention with his NFL combine performance.

At some point, an athlete has battled adversity in his or her career. University of Memphis Wide Receiver Calvin Austin III conquered adversity his senior year of high school up until now as he’s set to prepare for the NFL Draft. 

Austin stands at just 5’8”, but what he lacks in size is made up for with his speed. 

“Throughout my whole football career I was usually the smallest player on the field and that’s easy for people to overlook you,” Austin said. “I’ve always been competitive and wanted to prove to the outsiders that my size does not prevent me from doing anything and accomplishing my goals.” 

It can be easy to overlook Austin on the field during warmups. But he is unmistakable when playing. The wide receiver dominated this season, finishing second in the conference with his receiving stats. What a lot of people don’t know, is that he began his college football journey as a walk-on, before impressing NFL Scouting at this year's combine. 

“It just makes the story all that more special and it defines who I am as a person,” Austin said. “Being that underdog helps my play because it gives me that advantage on the field.” 

Austin’s success on the field is thanks to his father, who motivated him to never give up on football and pushed him to stay dedicated as an athlete. Their bond is a special part of his accomplishments. 

“There were many practices at Memphis early on in my career where I would just call him and be frustrated after games when I wasn’t playing, but even as a redshirt, my dad would still come to games,” he said. “I would be upset after games sometimes because I would be taking reps expecting to at least get a little playing time but he always kept me positive and told me to keep believing.”

The way Austin fights on the field is how he’s had to battle with adversity his whole life. 

“Colleges overlooked me because of my height and my childhood dream was always to always play for Memphis, so that’s when I decided to walk on and show the coaches that I could play on a high level,” he said. “There was a point where I had to prove to myself that I could compete on any level. You’re gonna go through moments where you feel like giving up but nothing comes easy in life and that’s when I felt humbled from that mindset.” 

After playing all four years in Tiger Blue, Austin decided that it was time to prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft. He got invited to the NFL combine in Indianapolis, held from March 4 through the 7. 

The Memphis star impressed the scouts at the combine, where he led most of the way to kickoff the combine. Austin became the shortest player to make a jump of more than one foot since 2003 and ran 4.32 seconds in the 40-yard dash, finishing with the fifth fastest time.

For now, Austin will soon look to hear his name called to play football at the highest level and, while many are doubting him because of his size, he’s looking to prove people wrong once again.

Calvin Austin III, although undersized, attracted attention with his NFL combine performance.

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