The adjustment process when one moves from high-caliber college player to NFL prospect trying to fit in is generally a tough one. With a few notable exceptions, even the best collegiate players need a settling-in period, and that has as much to do with the off-field stuff as it does with what Mr. Hot Shot will bring to his NFL team on game day.
Former West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin, perhaps the NCAA's most dynamic offensive player in 2012, is learning that the NFL brings a few interesting realities to light. Specifically, the fact that money brings problems in the form of people wanting money ... and we're not talking about agents and the IRS.
“Everybody expects a lot of things from you as far as money." Austin recently told the Rams' official website. "Everybody wants to be around you. My phone doesn’t stop ringing now. It feels like they’re counting my bank account now. So that’s probably the hardest thing for me right now, just people.
“I’ve got a lot of cousins now. The whole [city of] Baltimore is my cousin now. We’re going to just try to keep focused and let my mother and all of them handle it.”
Si.com's Peter King spent draft weekend in the Rams' war room, and he reported in his latest Monday Morning Quarterback that while Austin was admired for bypassing the temptations he encountered on the mean streets of Baltimore, there was some concern in NFL circles that Austin's past, in the form of "hangers-on," might follow him to the pros, and even increase their presence once the money started to roll in. That's not a knock on Austin, who is a great kid by all accounts -- it's a simple truth for young NFL players. Once the cash piles up, you're going to receive "heartfelt" communiqués from people you hardly know.
Draft pick salaries are slotted for the most part per the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and the numbers change a bit from year to year, but Austin will be moving up quite a few tax brackets when the numbers come out.
The Rams traded with the Buffalo Bills to move up to the eighth overall slot to select Austin. Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, last year's No. 8 pick, signed a four-year, $12.668 million contract with $7.653 million guaranteed in the form of a signing bonus. Tannehill made $480,000 plus a $484,841 roster bonus in his rookie year, and he'll rake in about $1.5 million this year between base salary and bonuses. Austin should expect to see similar numbers, and for him, it's all about getting his family out of his childhood home and into a better life.
"The goal was to get my mother and my grandmother out of the city," Austin told the Charleston Daily Mail on Apr. 28. "I don't know if they want to leave, but I'll definitely get them a better house so they don't have to worry about living in the hood. That was my No. 1 goal and that's happening now.
"I'm definitely going to move them to a nice place outside in the county, Harford County, or something like that, where it's a gated community and I pretty much know they're comfortable while I'm here working and they're back there just waiting for my game days on Sunday."
Sounds like Austin has his priorities in order, even if some around him don't seem to. As the noted philosopher Notorious B.I.G. once opined, "Mo' money, mo' problems."
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