Austin Acton has had a busy summer, and it’s not even July yet.
The Lamar running back/defensive back has attended several SEC football camps so far, most recently Ole Miss last week. He’s also been attending Tennessee and Alabama over the past few weeks, as well as VTO Elite camp in Birmingham, NexGen camp in Dallas, and the Rivals Combine in New Orleans, hoping to both be on the radars of college coaches and improve his skills. of his senior season this fall.
“It’s definitely a bit overwhelming at first, but once you’re there and ready to do all there is to it, it’s easy because you’ve been prepared,” Acton said.
In 11 games last season, Acton rushed 154 times for 808 yards and seven touchdowns, good for 5.2 yards per carry and 73.5 yards per game. He also caught 17 passes for 103 yards and a score and had 11 solo tackles on defense, becoming one of the Raiders’ key players on both sides of the ball.
The effort to improve his game began last spring, when Acton joined Lamar’s track and field team after new head football coach Jacob Land encouraged his returning players to compete in track and field. they weren’t doing a spring sport.
At the end of the season, Acton was named the Raiders’ Athletics Most Valuable Player. He qualified in two relay events as well as the 110-meter hurdles and long jump at the MAIS state meet, earning the most points in that meet.
“He qualified for six events in Upstate, which is the most you can do,” Land explained. “He had to be on every stint for us to be competitive, and qualifying for state in two individual events is impressive, especially since he’s never been on track before this year. He’s had to work extremely hard at hurdles and long jump to get as far as he did.
Acton said he enjoyed the experience and found he was getting faster and more agile through athletics, which he says will pay off in the fall with the soccer.
“It definitely helped me with my speed,” Acton said. “I had stopped all types of exercise and running for a little while, and the track is really really fast; you run 24/7. On track you learn to run and be a good sprinter and learn all the right techniques and that helps you develop your speed which correlates with football as you need speed to get past defenses or catch a running back when you’re on defense. »
At the SEC camps, Acton said he’s been through a lot of drills and the competition is fierce, as many other athletes are either trying to win offers themselves or already have offers.
“You try to put up your best stats and be watched by the coaches and all the people watching,” Acton said. “Competition helps you perform better because you want to outperform everyone. Once you’re ready, it’s easy. You just do what your God given talent allows you to do.
Former Lamar student Hayden Farrar, Acton’s cousin, walked Ole Miss last spring, and Farrar was able to give Acton advice on what to expect at SEC camps as well as encouragement watching some of Acton’s games at Lamar last fall.
“He said to me, ‘I know you got it, I saw it in you. Go show them what you got,'” Acton said. surpass other people.”
When he’s not attending summer camps, Acton trains at Lamar several times a week as part of the Raiders’ summer strength and conditioning program. Land said he expects players to practice at Lamar if they’re in town, but they don’t mind attending summer camps at colleges and JUCOs — actually. , he encourages her. There are several players on Lamar’s roster who have attended camps so far, Land said.
“They go to a soccer camp and improve their soccer skills and get coached by these great coaches, so they don’t miss out and lie in the pool,” Land said. “A lot of these camps are important for recruiting these athletes, and Austin is a guy they want to see before they propose. They have to go to these camps to be seen, and I want them to. I’m totally okay with them skipping a practice session to go to a football camp, go show off and prove you’re worth a scholarship and getting better at football.
Acton said he has learned a lot of football knowledge from the SEC and other high-end camps so far.
“They definitely set you up a lot,” Acton said. “You go through all the technical skills you need and all the ball carrier-specific skills. You have to know how to jump and juke a defender and have all the intangibles that go with the different positions so you can dominate on the playing field.”
Land said he’s happy to have Acton working over the summer and expects Acton’s role to be important to the team in the fall.
“I feel like Austin has the potential to be our bell cow,” Land said. “Offensively he will be our main running back most of the time, but he will also flex on the outside at receiver. In defense, we will probably move him around a lot. He’ll play a bit of safety but could also come down and play linebacker. Since he’s one of our best athletes, we want to put him in position to make the most plays, and as a linebacker he could use his speed, strength and explosiveness to make plays around the line. melee. If we’re up against a great receiver, he could cover that guy, so he can do a lot of different things for us.
Acton plans to attend camps in Mississippi State and Miss South later this summer, as well as returning to Alabama football camp at some point. He has also been invited to Beast of the Southeast Camo, Tiki Bowl, VTO All-American Challenge and Army All-American Camp.