Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
Texas Tech receiver Zach Austin had zero college receptions heading into last Saturday's game against Baylor. With injuries hitting the Red Raiders receivers, Austin was thrown into the fire and responded with a team-high eight receptions for 110 yards and one touchdown in the 63-35 loss. He took some time to chat with ESPN.com about his big game, how he ended up at Texas Tech and the Red Raiders' brotherhood.
What was it like to have such a big game?
Zach Austin: The biggest thing was that I just did my job. I did what I had to do; it was just unfortunate that we lost, but the point of me playing that position is to do my job and make the plays when they’re throwing to me and make the blocks.
Did you have a feeling you were going to be a big part of things heading into the game?
Austin: It’s hard to say. We change the game plan sometimes. There’s a real good script, but Coach [Kliff] Kingsbury is also really good at changing things depending on what the defense is doing. It’s really not my job to be thinking if I’m going to get the ball or not; it’s not anyone’s job. There are 11 guys on the field; they’re all supposed to do a job. If that means running someone off, like I did on the play I caught the touchdown... I wasn’t even supposed to get it on that play. I did my job and the ball kind of found me, I guess.
What was your favorite moment?
Austin: Probably the touchdown, but it’s hard to say. I liked how I blocked, I thought I blocked well. But the touchdown was pretty good because I hadn’t had one in three years. I kind of forgot how it felt to be in the end zone. It was an incredible feeling.
What is the key to getting things back on track (after losses to Baylor and TCU)?
Austin: Sticking together. I thought we did a good job coming into the season of building a brotherhood here. We have a motto: It’s “tough together,” and I consider all these guys my brothers. It’s about sticking together and not getting down.
Do you think you guys have shown that, in the TCU game in particular?
Austin: I think we’ve shown we’re going to stick together. I don’t think there will be a point this season where we fall apart because of outside people or not being a brotherhood. I think those two games will, hopefully, bring us closer together.
How did you end up at Tech?
Austin: [Texas Tech offensive coordinator] Coach [Eric] Morris was talking to me out of high school, I think he was at Washington State at the time, then he got the opportunity at Tech and took the job. Early in my senior year I tore my ACL and people just kind of stopped talking to me. I never got any offers and didn’t get the chance to finish my senior season. Late in the season I realized I would have to walk on somewhere and I remembered Coach Morris went to Tech, so I contacted him and asked if I could walk on and they said they’d love to have me.
I bet it felt good to show you can play at this level after having people drop off after the injury.
Austin: It was definitely the goal. Ever since I got here, I’ve been working toward playing. Any walk-on wants to play; that’s what they join the team for. I was lucky enough to be one of the guys who stuck around, stuck the hard times out and finally got a chance at a scholarship. then I got to play.
Did it validate how you felt about yourself?
Austin: Yeah, kind of. I had a lot of confidence I could play at this level. I had friends that talked to me and told me not to give up. There were a couple weeks and months where I was down, didn’t think I’d play football again but stuck it out, came here and I’ve had a really great time being here.
I hear you’re friends with Baker Mayfield. What’s one thing about him that people don’t know?
Austin: Well, since everyone knows he can dance … he’s really good at "Halo." I talk to him every once in a while, just to check up and him and he does the same to me. He sent me a text that night and told me how happy he was and to keep going.