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Austin has grit and grind

Memphis football coach Ryan Silverfield used plenty of adjectives when talking about Calvin Austin III, the Steelers fourth round pick who played college football for the Tigers.

But one thing he kept repeating was referring to the speedy receiver as a 'Memphis kid,' as that is where the young receiver not only played, but also grew up.

The question is, though, what makes Austin a 'Memphis kid.'

"I am truly Memphis. I've got grit, and you have to have grit and you've got to grind," said Austin. "That's truly what it means. Memphis is a place where kids can get caught up in stuff. We have a different type of grind and work ethic. You've got to really work hard if you want it to last.

"Being a Memphis kid is when you are faced with adversity, you're not going to back down. You're going to see it, look at it straight in the face and you're not going to back out of anything."

Austin never has backed down. He started as a walk-on at Memphis before breaking out and becoming a first-team All-AAC selection.

"I walked on," said Austin. "I didn't play my first two and a half years almost. And then I kind of broke out on the scene in 2020. After that season I had other colleges asking if I'm going to transfer and this and that. But being a Memphis kid, I'm not leaving what I started. I'm finishing what I started. I'm loyal. People were asking me why did I stay. I'm Memphis and that's what made me the person I am today, just having that toughness.

"That's why I think being a Steeler is a perfect match because that's what they're about, hard-nosed, tough football players and football team. That's why I think this organization is a perfect fit for me."

Take a look at a studio photoshoot of Calvin Austin III as a Pittsburgh Steeler

And Austin is a perfect fit for the receiver's room. He brings the element of speed, something you can't teach. He might not have the size of the prototype receiver at 5-9, but what he lacks in size he makes up for with that speed.

But there is more than the speed. Much more.

"I'll say something I bring is consistency," said Austin. "I'm always on time, always in the playbook. I know my assignment and where to be.

"I just love to work, and I will continue to work. I know we got some older guys in the room. I'm going to try to follow their lead. I'm not going to be loud, combative, none of that stuff. I love football and I know they've been in the league doing it longer. I have to continue to learn from them and continue to just to work hard. But I don't mind working hard."

That work ethic is something that came from his family, in particular his father, Calvin Austin II, a 25-year police officer in Memphis who always encouraged Austin and his sisters to put in hard work when they ran track in school.

"My dad had me and my sisters working in the summer, throughout the school year, doing extra stuff," said Austin. "It's become second nature to me. It's just what you know. At that point, I didn't even realize everyone wasn't doing the extra stuff we were doing. It was just something that he had us doing. I thought it was what you had to do.

"I did it to get into college and ended up earning a scholarship. That was just based off hard work. If I'm not working hard, it doesn't sit right with me. It's just always about pushing yourself because you know when you push yourself the results will come.

"I had that competitive edge when I was a kid. I would be out there playing with older kids, kids bigger than me. He saw that I was out there competing and that I wasn't scared of anything, and he always wanted to keep challenging me."

Now Austin's challenges are different, but ones that he is handling the same as he always has. With ease and an intense work ethic.

With OTAs and minicamp behind him, and training camp just around the corner, he is preparing to be ready to go when the Steelers report to Saint Vincent College.

"I just want to continue to learn, soaking in all the information and just be a pro at taking care of my body," said Austin. "It's a longer season than in college. I'm eating healthy and in my playbook."

Austin knows the NFL is different than college. The expectations are different because it's now a job. But for him, it's also fun and he wants it to stay that way.

"Honestly, it hasn't felt like a job yet," said Austin. "Maybe some years down the line it may feel like it, but I don't know how it can get much better than waking up and it's all football, and with the Steelers.

"It's amazing. It's just a blessing."