NORCROSS, Ga. -- While the ball was in the air, one of the officials working the chains on the sideline said to his partner, “Looks like they kicked it right to him.” The “him” in this case was Norcross running back Myles Autry.
The official’s surprise at the visiting Parkview Panthers' decision was well founded. Autry had been gashing Parkview all night, and punting to him seemed a bad idea. It was. Autry returned the punt 72 yards for a touchdown to ice the game.
Autry’s heroics came on a night when teammate and ESPN 150 star running back Alvin Kamara had to leave the game with an ankle injury. The Norcross coaches turned to Autry.
“Alvin got injured so they told me I had to pick it up,” Autry said. “They said when your name is called you have to do it -- pick the team up on your back -- so I did it. Before that play I told my teammates, ‘Just touch somebody. Just touch them. You don’t have to block. I will do the rest.’ And they did it for me.”
Plays like that have garnered Autry offers from schools such as Florida State, Penn State, Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. Last week he picked up three more, including one from the Tennessee Volunteers.
“I went to Tennessee last year with Jason Croom and I loved it,” Autry said. “It was packed. The environment was crazy. The atmosphere was crazy. I love it at Tennessee. I am going to go visit and see my boy Jason Croom. A few days ago, Louisiana-Lafayette and Miami offered. When I got that I was super happy. When the 'U' offers, that is big-time. But I can’t let all the offers get to my head.”
Despite being only a junior, Autry’s offer list is likely to grow in the coming weeks.
“I am hearing from Alabama, Ohio State, Maryland, UCF, Louisville and more,” Autry said. “And Georgia.”
The Bulldogs have had Autry on the radar for a while now.
“They haven’t offered me yet,” he said. “They want me to come this Saturday to the game. I talk to Coach [Bryan] McClendon every week. I get in touch with him. We talk about everything. He says he loves my game. He is a good guy. He said he wants me to visit Georgia and bring my family with me.”
Autry believes that when he visits Georgia he will be able to add the Bulldogs to his list of offers. And Georgia is not the only school that wants Autry to come by for a meeting.
“Alabama is talking to me and they say they like me a lot and want me to visit this fall,” Autry said. “I told them, ‘All right.’ They came to the spring game to watch me and Alvin play and they said they liked my game. An Alabama offer would mean a lot. They are a big school, and the No. 1 team in the country. If they offered that would be good.”
The Tide made headlines when the Alabama coaching staff sent Kamara 105 hand-written letters in one day. Kamara has narrowed his list down to four schools, with Alabama and Georgia at the top. Against Parkview, the talented running back left in the second quarter.
“His ankle was already sprained against Colquitt and it just got injured again,” Autry said. “He will be all right. He will be back next week.”
Norcross will need both Kamara and Autry when it faces regional foe North Gwinnett (Ga.) on Friday. Defensive end Dante Sawyer will look to hit Autry with some of the sharp blows that Parkview gave him on more than one occasion. Autry took a beating in the game but never stopped.
“That is where that weight training helps out,” Autry said. “When you hit me I bounce right back up. It didn’t hurt me. I just went back to the huddle and on the next play I scored. They told me to do a flair left, double crack.”
Here’s betting that North Gwinnett doesn’t punt to him.