By Mickey Furfari
For the Times West Virginian
West Virginia University’s top two pass-catchers continue to draw closer to 1,000 receiving yards after seven games.
Sophomore Stedman Bailey now has 41 receptions for 764 yards and six touchdowns, while junior Tavon Austin has 48 receptions for 624 yards and two scores. Those two rank 1 and 2 in the Big East and also are high among national leaders.
Bailey leads the conference in receiving yards and touchdowns, but Austin is the conferences’s No. 1 in passes caught.
However, both remain on course to become 1,000-yard receivers in the same season. It would be a first in Mountaineer history.
Bailey, who is averaging 109.1 receiving yards per game, needs just 236 to turn the trick. He continues to break his school record with 100 yards or more in five consecutive games.
Austin is averaging just under 90 yards per game, and he’s 376 yards short of 1,000. He caught six passes for 60 yards in last week’s 49-23 upset loss at Syracuse. He also ran one yard for his only touchdown in that game.
Bailey’s touchdown among his seven receptions and 130 yards that night covered 64 yards in grabbing quarterback Geno Smith’s accurate delivery.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Bailey enrolled at WVU the same year Smith did. Both came form Miami’s Miramar High School. Those two got a lot of experience pitching and catching footballs.
Bailey was redshirted a year here. He started in nine games last season and had 24 receptions for 317 yards and four touchdowns.
Austin, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound native of Baltimore, is a second-year starter. After six games this year, he ranked third in the nation in all-purpose yards and No. 1 in the Big East with 193.5 per game.
He’s also among NCAA leaders in number of receiving yards and passes caught.
In 2010, Austin logged 58 passes for 787 yards and eight touchdowns. His longest reception was 71 yards.
The Mountaineers (5-2, 1-1 Big East) are preparing for another road game this week. It’s at Rutgers (5-2, 2-1). The Scarlet Knights are coming off a league loss against Louisville.
Like WVU, they have an extra day to prepare for the contest.